7/14/16 – Here is updated information about helicopter evacuation membership plans.

If you haven’t done so, we suggest you add your information to the Portal Rescue Locator Book database in order to speed up time to find your home in case of emergency.

You can download the form here, fill it out, and send it to Portal Rescue, PO Box 16331, Portal, AZ 85632. Then your information will be added or updated in the Locator Book database.

This form includes directions, occupants, medical conditions and hazards that will be helpful to rescuers and will speed up our time to find your home.

6/1/16 –  Once again a lightning strike started fire in the foothills and burned near our community of Portal. Portal Rescue volunteers responded with both Brush Trucks and a Water Tender. Additional assistance was provided soon after by Arizona State Land Mutual Aid, Rodeo Fire and Cotton City fire personnel. Our thanks go out to those volunteers and to the supporting fire crews in controlling the fire by this morning.

As President of Portal Rescue what concerns me is that additional assistance that we could have provided was frustrated by residents, who in giving up their local phones and opting for cell phones, have forgotten to update emergency contact information maintained by Portal Rescue. Certainly it is their option to change, but, in changing they have forgotten to update their phone numbers on our files. Any changes can be sent to Portal Rescue, P.O. Box 16331, Portal, AZ 85632.

Last night’s fire is an example of needing current information. We were concerned that the fire was moving towards homes and using our Emergency Contact information phone numbers we started calling residents to warn them of the fire danger. In a number of cases we found that, “… the number you have called has been recently disconnected”. How can Portal Rescue assist you if we can’t reach you?

Further, when a resident calls 911 on a cell phone the call goes into the Hidalgo County cell tower and to a Hidalgo County emergency dispatcher. The dispatcher then has to understand that the call is coming from Portal, in Cochise County. There have been a number of times when the requested assistance has been delayed when the dispatcher misunderstood where the call was coming from. Or worse yet, when the cell phone connection was so bad that the dispatcher couldn’t understand the caller!

Land lines may cost money but is giving up that phone, and it’s dependability, worth it in an emergency?

Again, our thanks to all the men and women who assisted in protecting our community.
Bill Wilbur, Portal Rescue, Inc.


3/3/16 – For the last three springs you’ve seen the plentiful grass and heard about the high fire danger and then nothing happens.  We’ve noticed too.

Well, this year might be different.  Our valley has already seen three wildfires in the last two months and it’s not even hot or windy.
No one can predict how many fires we’ll have or indeed if we’ll have any more, but it’s prudent to base our actions on what we’ve seen so far this year.
Some other thoughts:
a.  Having dry grass right up to your home is a very bad idea.
b.  Open burning, whether in a pit, pile, or barrel, is a bad idea.
c.  Grass dries out quickly.  One of this year’s fires had snow within 30 feet!
d.  If you’ve been putting off making your home a little more wildfire safe, now is a good time to get it done before it gets hotter.
Thanks for your help.
David Newton
Fire Chief
Portal Rescue Inc.