Fire managers are planning to conduct prescribed burns tomorrow, October 14, on the Pete Project north of the San Francisco Peaks and the Blue Ridge Urban Interface Project northeast of Clints Well.
Smoke is expected to disperse toward the northeast and may settle in low areas, especially during the evening and early morning hours.
Pete Project: 600 acres; located on the north side of the San Francisco Peaks near Forest Road 418. This area was treated with prescribed fire 5 to 7 years ago, and tomorrow’s maintenance burn mimics fire’s natural cycle of recurrence. Historically, fire returned to an area every 5 to 10 years. Because this location has been previously treated, there will be less fuel to consume and the burn will produce somewhat lighter smoke. Smoke will be visible from Flagstaff and will disperse to the northeast and will likely settle around north Highway 89, Forest Road 418, and the Cameron area.
Blue Ridge Project: 1,780 acres; located approximately six miles northeast of Clints Well. If conditions are favorable, this burn will continue daily through Thursday and will produce noticeable smoke to those in the Clear Creek Pines neighborhood as well as travelers along State Highway 87. Sections of the Arizona Trail will be rerouted in the areas where the burn is taking place and signs will be posted.
Prescribed fires are essential tools for restoring the forests in our fire-adapted ecosystem, and smoke is an unavoidable byproduct of these vital efforts. Fire managers strive to minimize smoke impacts to the community as much as possible. They burn when winds and other atmospheric conditions will push the majority of smoke away from homes; they’ll burn larger sections at a time to ultimately limit the number of days smoke is in the air; and they work closely with the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality, partners in the Ponderosa Fire Advisory Council, as well as neighboring forests to monitor air quality.
Crews also seek opportunities to use slash from thinning projects around the community instead of burning it – it is often used as filler at the landfill and offered as firewood to community members. However, no matter how many mechanical means the Forest Service employs to restore forests, fire is a natural and necessary part of this ecosystem, and a restoration tool that cannot be replaced by any mechanical means. Forests need the frequent, low-intensity fire to remove accumulated smaller fuels and recycle nutrients into the soils to promote healthy vegetation and wildlife habitat. A healthier forest is a safer forest for firefighters and residents when wildfires inevitably occur.
Notifications of upcoming prescribed burns are provided regularly throughout the season. The public can find this information online and on the Prescribed Fire recorded hotline at 928-226-4607