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Coronavirus testing blitz coming to Cochise County

SIERRA VISTA — A week after the governor announced a testing blitz across the state, Chiricahua Community Health Centers decided to participate.

This Saturday, May 9, in the Oscar Yrun Center’s parking lot the team from Chiricahua will be testing those who feel like they need a test and haven’t been able to get one.

“With us being the largest provider in the county, it’s important we do this for the community,” said Chiricahua Public Relations Specialist Emily Vickers.

Those who wish to be tested needs to pre-register by Saturday morning.

Registration will be done over the phone on Thursday and Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Those interested should call 520-515-8648.

Vickers asks the public to be patient when calling because there will be two people answering the phones, with an expectancy of high demand in calls.

She added that all pre-registered guests are guaranteed to receive a test.

The blitz will take place on Saturday from 6 a.m. to noon.

'They're going to need our support': Family of seven lose everything in Whetstone fire

WHETSTONE — A Whetstone family of seven — five young children and two adults — lost everything in a massive fire Monday evening that drew emergency responders from multiple agencies.

Around 9:35 p.m. Whetstone Fire District units responded to 911 calls with reports of a residential fire on the 100 block of Via Papaya, just east of the fire station.

When firefighters arrived on scene a double-wide mobile home was 50 percent involved in a fast-moving blaze that had destroyed the family’s two vehicles. The fire was carried by heavy brush throughout the property.

While nine people were treated by Sierra Vista Fire and Medical Services paramedics for smoke inhalation, no one was seriously injured.

“There were nine victims treated for smoke inhalation, seven from the house and two neighbors that were attempting to put the fire out with garden hoses,” said Whetstone Fire Chief Peter Bidon.

“We have no idea how the fire started, the cause is under investigation.,” he added.

Water tenders from Sonoita-Elgin and Mescal-J-6 fire districts, as well as the Fort Huachuca Fire Department were on scene. Cochise County Sheriff’s Office deputies, Department of Public Safety officers and the Huachuca City Police Department also responded.

“Because we don’t have fire hydrants out here, we need the extra support from water tenders,” Bidon said. Sierra Vista Fire sent an engine and ambulance as well, he added.

The displaced family is being assisted by the Red Cross and Southern Arizona Humanitarian Aid Resource Alliance (SAHARA), and a GoFundMe account has been set up by a family friend.

All five children were provided with blankets, snacks, jackets and socks by SAHARA, a nonprofit based out of Whetstone.

“This is a particularly unfortunate incident because Terance Finch and his family lost their home, belongings, and both automobiles to the fire. And because of the coronavirus, Terance and his wife recently lost their jobs,” said Rick Hackney, who co-founded SAHARA with his wife, Jredia Newton.

“The community really turned out for this family, and we hope it continues because they’re going to need our support.”

While firefighters battled the blaze, intermittent explosions could be heard, which witnesses attributed to everything from propane tanks to car tires to gasoline tanks.

“This is a terrible fire,” said Julie Morrow, whose home is directly across the street from the Finch property. “I’m so glad the family got out and no one is injured. The firefighters are doing a really good job of protecting all the surrounding properties.”

“For now, the family is staying with relatives in Benson,” said Hackney, who has received an outpouring of donations from the community. “They have a lot of sorting out to do while they get re-established. Something like this is a real shock, so I’m sure they’re pretty overwhelmed right now.”