As drier conditions return to northern Arizona, fire activity is expected to increase today on the two fires being managed for resource benefit on the Tusayan Ranger District of the Kaibab National Forest.
The McRae Fire, located a few miles south and southeast of Tusayan, is 5,074 acres in size and is expected to grow significantly over the next few days as drier conditions prevail. With warmer temperatures and southwest winds predicted, fire managers consider it the perfect time to conduct managed ignitions starting at the northwest corner of the fire area and moving south along State Highway 64. Smoke and fire will be visible from Tusayan and the highway today, but predicted winds should carry the smoke away from Grand Canyon Airport and other populated areas. Motorists are asked to use caution while driving on the highway between mile posts 230 and 234, as fire personnel and equipment will be present.
The Hammer Fire, which is located farther from Tusayan at about 10 miles east to southeast of the community, grew to 855 acres yesterday. With drier conditions in the forecast, fire managers expect the Hammer Fire to expand more rapidly, increasing the acres treated and the benefits to overall forest health. Today, crews will burn grass, brush and other forest fuels along forests roads 310 and 317 at the northwest corner of the planning area, a technique known as black lining. Black lining is used to create a safe burned area in front of the main fire to prevent any future issues with keeping the fire within defined boundaries. No smoke impacts are expected to communities.
The goal is to allow these fires to continue burning as they would naturally as long as they can be safely managed and confined to predetermined boundaries while also benefiting forest resources. Specifically, fire managers are seeking to improve overall forest health, reduce accumulations of forest debris, enhance wildlife habitat, and reduce the likelihood of future high-severity fires that could threaten communities and lives.
Additional information, photos and maps are available at the following locations: