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Raging wildfire causing concern

Raging wildfires are one of the many dry-weather joys of living in Tucson. They usually kick around for awhile, displacing rabbits and field mice, then peter out or become contained.

The Elk Horn Fire, in the Baboquivari Peak Wilderness Area about 50 miles southwest of Tucson, has been causing quite a stir since it began June 11.

The fire is “human caused, ” according to the Arizona State Forestry Division.

As of Tuesday, the Elk Horn has consumed 14,500 acres and is only 18 percent contained and expected to burn for several more days. The terrain is rough and ragged, making access tough for fire crews. Two helicopters, six engines, four water tenders, four hand crews, three hotshot crews and a grand total of 215 personnel have been fighting this blaze.

Elk Horn Fire/AZ State Forestry
Elk Horn Fire/AZ State Forestry

This particular fire is noxious enough to have prompted the American Lung Association of Arizona and Pima County Department of Environmental Quality to issue a smoke advisory.

The advisory warns people, especially those with respiratory problems, to take caution. It also advises:

• Not to jog, jump rope or exert yourself in smoky areas
• Close your doors and windows
• Use air conditioning rather than evaporative coolers, since the latter will just suck smoke into your home

Other helpful tips should include:

• Don’t stand directly beneath a big billow of smoke and take in an expansive, gulping breath
• Don’t venture southwest of town into the burning brush to see what all the hubbub is about
• Don’t try to emulate the Elk Horn, or any other wildfire, in your barbecue grill.

Barbecue/Ryn Gargulinski
Barbecue/Ryn Gargulinski
Unattended barbecue/Ryn Gargulinski
Unattended barbecue/Ryn Gargulinski

Still worried? Check out air pollution levels at the PDEQ website or call the PDEQ hotline at
(520) 882-4AIR. This way you know if you should go north for the summer.

Have you ever gotten up and close and personal with a raging wildfire?

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The Roswell experience – Companion piece to Report from Area 51

Aliens blasting down to take over the planet has always been a scintillating thought.

Sure, we may end up getting our brains bisected, but at least we would no longer have to worry about mundane things, like emptying the dishwasher or folding laundry.

Since our Logical Lizard Geoffrey Notkin posted about his and Caroline’s experience near Nevada’s Area 51, I thought it only fair to chime in with my own alien excursion.

Welcome to Roswell, New Mexico

Roswell street lamp/Ryn Gargulinski
Roswell street lamp/Ryn Gargulinski
Roswell soda machine/Ryn Gargulinski
Roswell soda machine/Ryn Gargulinski

If nothing else, Roswell is cashing in on the aliens that began landing there in the 1940s by hooking up the town with alien-themed everything.

Despite its jovial outward appearance, some Roswellians seemed pretty cranky. One man who ran one of those kitschy alien novelty shops was downright rude. When I asked if there was a bathroom I could use, he pointed at the wastebasket.

What we should do to the rude man/Ryn Gargulinski
What we should do to the rude man/Ryn Gargulinski

Maybe he was mad because if you took photos in the alien museum, which was dark but became illuminated by the flash, you could tell some of the alien beings were held to the wall with duct tape.

Duct taped alien/Ryn Gargulinski
Duct taped alien/Ryn Gargulinski
Alien behind a shower curtain/Ryn Gargulinski
Alien behind a shower curtain/Ryn Gargulinski
Alien near a metal thing/Ryn Gargulinski
Alien near a metal thing/Ryn Gargulinski

While it was evident the duct-taped aliens were not real, I do like to believe in the other incidents. Like one of my friends said about the spacecraft and debris found by a New Mexico man in the 1940s: “Why would a farmer lie, Ryn, why would a farmer lie?”

Besides, any alien is sure to be nicer than that grouchy old pee-in-the-wastebasket man.

Our friend the alien/File photo
Our friend the alien/File photo
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Movie review: Glorious gore fest

Not many movies gross me out enough to leave the theater or, in the case of home rentals, close my eyes on the faux-fur-covered couch. Two movies I rented this weekend were horrifically gory enough to do so, and then some.

Gore/Ryn Gargulinski
Gore/Ryn Gargulinski

Above all else, both movies left me in shock. Not necessarily because of their content, but because I picked two awesome movies in a row.

Anyone who has rented movies with me knows I have an incredible knack for picking out pure duds (think My Left Foot).

But Eden Lake and Martyrs were anything but duds. They were good enough for me to pass along to add to your gore list. Warning: these are sick flicks.

Eden Lake – A couple gets stranded at a remote lake where they are stalked, terrorized and tortured by a band of bawdy 12-year-olds. Movie comes complete with burning bodies and realistic stab wounds that gush black blood.
Highlight:
Proves my theory that even a gang of 5-year-olds could kill you.
Lowlight: A dog dies.
Rating (1-10): 8.25
Would have scored higher if the ending were not so predictable although the movie went out of the way to make it seem unpredictable.

Martyrs – A woman who was abused as a child seeks revenge 15 years after the fact. Rather than that being the end of the story, it is only the beginning of a new and horrifying chapter for the woman’s best friend, who ends up worse off than child-abuse victim ever was.
Highlight: Gives you an easy recipe on how to drive someone insane.
Lowlight: It’s a French film dubbed in English that also features English subtitles. This means the actors’ mouths not only don’t match the dubbing, but the dubbing doesn’t match the subtitles. Only after you stop comparing the dubbed words with the subtitles to see which is better English (while wondering if you would understand any of it if it had been left in French) can you begin to enjoy the flick.
Rating (1-10): 11
Sick. Twisted. Grotesque. Shocking surprise ending. Yet it still leaves you with hope. See it and you’ll know what I mean.

See any good, bad or ugly movies this past weekend?
What are your picks for the best gore?

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Who said kids don’t care? Singing teen seeking cure

One local teen has been singing for more than her supper.

Marana high school freshman Kailey Carranza has been singing for a cure.

This melodic 14-year-old has been donating her time, talents – and all proceeds from her newly released CD – to an organization dedicating to finding a cure for leukemia.

She got hooked on Lea’s Foundation because other family members had volunteered for the group. Her CD, “Singing for a Cure,” can be found on the Lea’s Foundation Web site and more info at Carranza’s MySpace page.

Carranza’s talents took center stage once again on Saturday when she sang the national anthem at a luncheon honoring former Arizona Governor Raul Castro for his lifetime of service. Castro was the first, and so far only, Mexican-America elected to govern Arizona in 1974. He since went on to serve as U.S. Ambassador to Argentina, El Salvador and Bolivia; Pima County Attorney and Superior Court Judge.

Not a bad luncheon at which to sing, especially if they were served those little triangular sandwiches.

Teens doing cool things gives me so much hope, especially after watching Eden Lake this weekend (review coming soon).

I say a standing ovation is in order for Kailey Carranza. Heck, give one to Castro and Lea’s Foundation, too, while you’re at it.

Kailey Carranza and Gov. Raul Castro
Kailey Carranza and Gov. Raul Castro

Do you know a teen that is doing cool things? Send info and photo to rynski@tucsoncitizen.com

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Shots fired at parks and wildlife crew on the border

Men and women in uniform may look official, snappy and, depending on the uniform, sometimes even sexy, but they are also easy targets for gun-toting Mexicans along the border.

It doesn’t matter if the uniform denotes Border Patrol, cops or even a wildlife or parks worker.

Game and Fish officer, 2 other agency employees fired upon near Mexico border, AZ Game and Fish Dept. news release:

PHOENIX – Three government agency employees, including an officer with the Arizona Game and Fish Department, another Game and Fish employee, and an employee with Pima County Natural Resources, Parks and Recreation, were fired upon the afternoon of June 11 by a group of men they encountered while scouting the area for a land access project in southern Arizona.

None of the agency employees were injured.

The three were riding all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) on a road through a small canyon area about four miles east of Arivaca Lake when they encountered a group described as at least four Hispanic males dressed in camouflage.

According to Leonard Ordway, supervisor for Game and Fish’s Tucson region, two of the individuals in camouflage immediately fled a short distance up a hill and dropped down in the grass upon the encounter, while the agency employees backed out of the immediate vicinity and regrouped.

After a few minutes, the Game and Fish officer crept up a small rise a short distance from the road to look over the scene with binoculars. He observed two other males in camouflage in the area, but in a different direction from the first two. He then started back down the hill to return to the ATVs.

“As he started back down to the quads, a gunshot coming from the direction where the first two individuals had fled impacted the ground about 10 feet behind him,” said Ordway.

The three agency employees immediately departed the area and notified Game and Fish Radio Dispatch, which in turn notified the Border Patrol, Pima County Sheriff’s Office, and the Arizona Department of Public Safety.

About 30-40 law enforcement personnel, aided by three helicopters, were on site within 45 minutes to search the area and investigate the scene. They were not able to find the suspects but did recover several fresh 9mm casings from the area where the initial shot came from, indicating subsequent shots may have been fired as the agency employees were leaving the area.

“We’re thankful no one was hurt,” said Game and Fish Director Larry Voyles. “Our law enforcement officers and other field personnel often work in remote areas, and (this) incident serves as a reminder of the potential dangers that they—and personnel from other agencies—face in areas near the border.”

Voyles added that Game and Fish is reviewing its operating procedures for employees working in borderland areas.

Maybe parks, wildlife and natural resources employees along the border can change their uniforms to something less official-looking, like cut-offs and tank tops. But was it the uniforms that helped prompt the shooting or would the men have shot at anything that moved?

What do you think?

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