Fire sweeps Tombstone site in district that has been called a ‘tinderbox’

Fire swept through Old West Studio, a gunfight-reenactment attraction in the historic downtown section of Tombstone late Thursday afternoon. The wood-fenced business at 5th and Toughnut Sts., was destroyed. The Tombstone Fire Department said that crews from St. Davis, Huachuca City and Whetstone also responded and helped keep the fire from spreading.

Water availability was not evidently an issue. Formerly known as Six Gun City, the complex had been rebuilt after being burned down in a previous fire, on Dec. 8, 2010. Link.

In 2012, as Tombstone remained at odds with the federal government over access to U.S. Forest Service land to make repairs on the town’s antiquated water system, the earlier Six Gun City fire was cited by the Goldwater Institute in a court filing supporting Tombstone’s bid to force the Forest Service to allow the town to make emergency water-pipeline repairs using heavy equipment on protected land.

The following report is from The Tombstone Epitaph on Dec. 6, 2013:

Besides the urgent need for an adequate drinking water safe from possible arsenic contamination in town wells, serious concerns have been raised about Tombstone’s ability to fight building fires, given a limited existing water supply.

According to a court filing by the Goldwater Institute in support of Tombstone’s suit against the federal government, “Tombstone is a tinderbox because of the all-wood structures located within its six-block historical business district. The wood structures are especially flammable because of a shared attic that exists between them.”

The filing said that the only structure in the historic district that has a sprinkler system is the Bird Cage theater. It also cites a fire that generated 200-foot flames on Dec. 8, 2010 and destroyed Six Gun City, a restaurant and bar at Toughnut and 5th streets and said: “If any of these embers landed on roofs in the historic district, those buildings could have easily caught fire. Even with the fire contained to the area around Six Gun City and two fire engines on site to fight the blaze, it took 20 minutes to knock down (put out) the fire ….”

With a spread of such a fire into the historical district in spring or summer, “the city would not have enough water flowing to maintain adequate water pressure and supplies” to suppress it, the Goldwater Institute said.


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