Tonto National Forest fire specialists will begin conducting a large, landscape scale, broadcast fire treatment in the Houston Mesa Road area between Gillian Gap and 1st Crossing. Beginning Tuesday, February 16, 2016, fire specialists burn 3,033 acres of brush. Smoke from this large burn will impact all communities south of Diamond Rim.
Residents and visitors to the area can expect to see and smell heavy smoke during the two day burning operation. During the day smoke will impact Diamond Point and Ellison Creek summer homes, Las Cienegas Ranch, Bonita Creek, Whispering Pines, Verde Glen, Rim Trail, Beaver Valley, Freedom Acres and Cold Springs. During the evening, smoke will impact Star Valley, Lion Springs, Payson, Diamond Point Shadows, Chaparral Pines, Rim Club, The Knolls, Freedom Acres, Beaver Valley, Flowing Springs and east Verde Estates. Smoke may linger in the area through Friday, February 19, 2016. Fire specialists will terminate ignitions by 4 p.m. each day to minimize the impact of smoke. Signs will be posted on roads likely to be affected by smoke. Forest Road (FR) 198, the Pyeatt Draw Road and FR433, in Mayfield Canyon, will be temporarily closed for public safety. Motorists are urged to use caution and slow down for the safety of the public and firefighters, especially along the Houston Mesa Road during evening hours when smoke will settle in the valley and limit visibility.
Prescribed fire treatments are always dependent on conditions such as wind speed and direction, temperature, relative humidity, fuel moisture content, and other variables. Broadcast treatments typically continue for several days are conducted when fuel moisture content of the vegetation and weather conditions are favorable. Low-to-moderate winds are needed to carry flames and dissipate smoke during and after burn operations to achieve beneficial effects sought by land managers.
Prescribed fire gives land managers the important option of treating areas with fire under favorable conditions, which helps to protect the natural and cultural resources, while decreasing danger to the public and firefighters. The growth, rate of spread, and smoke from a prescribed fire treatment is closely monitored. Aggressive suppression actions are taken if the fire displays behavior that does not meet resource management objectives.
In 2001, the Payson Ranger District began implementation of a far-reaching, long-range, landscape-scale, three-pronged fuels reduction strategy. The achievable goal is to reduce catastrophic wildfire danger in Rim Country, to initiate the restoration of natural ecological systems, and to develop and foster sustainable forest conditions, wildlife habitat, and watersheds.