Location: 30 miles northwest of Prescott on the Chino Valley Ranger District (T17N, R6W, S26)
Start Date: July 10th
Size: Approximately 45 Acres
Percent Contained: 0
Vegetation: Chaparral and Ponderosa Pine
Resource Commitment: 1 Interagency Hotshot Crew; 2 Type III Engines; 1 Type III Helicopter
Summary: The Hyde Fire caused by lightning during thunderstorms that occurred between Saturday July 8th and Monday July 10th. It was discovered on July 10th at approximately 3:00 pm by a Prescott National Forest firefighter who was patrolling the area armed with a lightning map. A large dead pine tree (snag) was discovered to be burning with approximately .10 acre burning with low to moderate intensity. Additional resources and fire managers responded late in the afternoon to assess access to the fire; fire behavior; potential for spread; and to determine any threats to natural or human values. Fire behavior diminished after dark as is often the case this time of year. Firefighters returned to the Fire this morning to find the snag and fire still burning with low intensity while the District Ranger and the Fire Management Officers discussed strategies and options in response to the Hyde Fire. Firefighters remain on scene working to minimize fire behavior and assess control features at this time. Moderate rainfall has occurred over the fire this afternoon.
The location of the Hyde Fire and the time of year are ideal to see desired and beneficial results in restoring the ecosystem in the area. Unlike fires earlier this summer during our hottest and driest periods and immediately adjacent to communities, the Hyde Fire is remote and resulted from a lightning strike at a time when intermittent rains have occurred and are likely to continue. With the onset of the Monsoon rains, higher relative humidity during the days and nights will aid in minimizing fire behavior. Lightning fires have occurred on this landscape for hundreds of thousands of years and burned freely under similar conditions. Firefighters on the Hyde Fire will be applying their skills and expertise in manipulating fire behavior and the fire’s perimeter in a way to mimic the historic patterns and to reduce the likelihood of unwanted effects.
The primary reason for this strategy of restoring fire’s historical and natural role in and around the Hyde Fire, is to reduce the overstocked vegetation and enhance the health of the limited and fragile Ponderosa Pine in the area. In turn, wildlife habitat, watershed condition, and many other natural resources will be enhanced. Low to moderate intensity fires at this time of year just as they have historically, reintroduce nutrients into the soil and reduces competitive vegetation and vegetation that could pose a risk to higher intensity fires in the future.
The firefighters on the Hyde Fire would like to make clear to the public and our partners, that they are not “letting it burn.” A popular misbelief over the years, is that managers simply let lightning fires burn. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Fire managers and natural resource specialists plan for lightning fires well ahead of the season every year by assessing conditions; reviewing policy; and discussing values at risk both natural values and human values. And, when such a lightning fire occurs, all the same tools and tactics are available and employed as needed on a lightning fire as they might be for a human-caused and undesirable fire. Through assessment of the potential risks, impacts of a fire, and risk to firefighters a determination is made on how aggressive a fire needs to be addressed. Even some lightning fires during Monsoon season require immediate and aggressive action. Fires this time of year and in areas with fewer values at risk such as the Hyde Fire, there may be less aggressive tactics in the name of firefighter safety and tax-payer savings. However, we never allow any fire to simply burn at will. The Hyde Fire will be managed with a combination of tactics that may include burn out operations; line construction; mop-up; and in some places simple monitoring by personnel on the ground or in the air.
No significant resource commitment is expected as fire managers and the firefighters expect to be able to move with the fire as it moves across the landscape. Fire Managers and Line Officers are well aware of the increasing needs of resources elsewhere in the country and are therefore being deliberate in the management strategy of the Hyde fire that is responsive to the fire behavior and the resource protection as needed. Resources committed to the Hyde Fire will be released as soon as they are no longer needed, but the fire will always be staffed and monitored until it is declared “out.”
The public can obtain additional fire information via the following: