By Machelle James
Our beautiful state is on fire – LITERALLY! The Bush Fire began on June 13, due to a car fire. It is the country’s largest fire happening right now and it’s in our backyard! Our town of Heber-Overgaard is not in danger, but we are upwind from the fire. We can smell and see the thick smoke at night. It is such an eerie sight to see the sky turn orange at 3 p.m. every day.
As of Friday morning, the fire has burned more than 150,000 acres – the fifth largest wildfire in Arizona history. I cannot even imagine what the people of Tonto Basin, Punkin Center, Sunflower and Apache Lake must be going through. Mandatory evacuations, fear, panic, loss. We are praying for rain and the winds to calm down as there were gusts up to 45 mph this past week.
Ironically, we just received our Burn Permit through Heber-Overgaard’s Fire Department two weeks ago. We had the Fire Department come out, inspect our burn pits, make sure we had a water source, and said we were OK to burn our tree stumps and downed tree limbs. Of course we cut them up and stayed outside with the fire pits all day.
What’s crazy is that we had neighbors call the Forest Service to come check out our fire. Why they would call them I have no idea, as we are on private property. So the Forest Service drove by, stopped at our entrance, and AJ walked over to see what was going on. They said, “Yep, it’s a controlled burn and you have your Burn Permit, so have a nice day.” They told us they couldn’t do anything anyway, since we are not on Forest Service land.
We also had 911 calls placed saying our property was on fire. Since the Fire Chief knew we had our permits and were going to burn that day, he told the dispatch officers not to send any fire trucks out. He also asked them to thank the neighbors for their concern and inform the callers that it is a controlled burn.
Chief McCluskey is our Fire Chief and he works really hard to maintain a very good relationship with the town folks. He ended up coming by and we took a picture with him to post on Facebook to show that all is OK. What I learned is to post a notice on our Community Bulletin Board on Facebook and our Business Page before we do anything that may even look dangerous. We have a lot of curious and concerned folks here; and being in a small town, wild rumors can run rampant.
We also had a day available to paint our woodshed. The building was left abandoned on our property and we were able to save it and repurpose it. It looks SO much better and surprisingly it is still watertight! Here is where we will store our firewood.
On the business side, I made a mistake on our final Board of Supervisors meeting. It is on Tuesday, June 23, not the 18th! So next Tuesday at 9:00 a.m., we meet before the Board and we should get the final approval. We were told our campground is super simple and small and they really don’t have any concerns for us to operate. I will keep you all posted on my next article as we are going to pull permits as soon as we get the green light!
We are currently working on our bid from our Septic Engineer. We were told it will be anywhere from $47,000 to $100,000. We need more of a final number to work with for our SBA Loan. We need to include concrete work for the tanks and that is coming in at about $20,000. So … when people wonder why camping costs so much when at a newer campground, this is why. We are not grandfathered in to any older septic system requirements, and I can tell you the new systems are much more sophisticated and energy efficient. They also cost double the amount, as well.
Speaking of SBA Loans, we have received our First Letter of Intent from a Bank! It’s like getting engaged before officially getting married. We meet them tomorrow to discuss our business plan and to build a relationship with each other and see if we want to work together. We will then get the offer with terms, and then we decide if we want to get “married” to each other. I am so excited that we finally have a bank that sees our Vision that I know I’m not going to sleep a wink tonight!
Thank you all for following our campground journey and See You in the Trees!
And please leave a comment!
Machelle, AJ and Jenna
Read previous articles here.
Machelle James and her husband, AJ, are building, from the ground up, a 15-acre RV park in Heber-Overgaard, Arizona, in the beautiful White Mountains 140 miles from Phoenix. Follow them on Facebook @ AJ’s Getaway RV Park or on Instagram at ajsgetawayrvpark.