Fire specialists from the Tonto National Forest (NF) will begin prescribed fire treatments on Monday, Jan. 12.
The 140-acre treatment in Bonita Creek will eliminate vegetative debris piles. This treatment is expected to last one to two days, and smoke will be moderate during burning operations. During the day, smoke will impact Bonita and Ellison creeks. Residual smoke in the evening hours will impact Whispering Pines and Ellison Creek Estates due to cold, still winter air.
If conditions allow, crews will continue restoration efforts by treating the area around Long Ranch/Mead Ranch between Jan. 12 and 16. The 280-acre treatment will eliminate vegetative debris piles and will last two to three days. Moderate smoke during the day will impact Long Ranch, Mead Ranch, and Zane Grey Estates. In the evening, residual smoke will settle into Tonto Creek and Diamond Point Summer Homes.
Fire specialists will continue a 200-acre treatment, if conditions permit, in the La Cienega Ranch area, between Jan. 12 and 16. Smoke to eliminate vegetative debris piles will be moderate, and will impact Ellison Creek Estates during the day. During the evening, residual smoke will impact Ellison Creek Summer Homes caused by cold winter air.
Prescribed fire is a key restoration tool that, together with mechanical treatments, can reduce the current dense, overstocked forest conditions. Residents and visitors can expect to see and smell moderate amounts of smoke each day during burning operations. To minimize the smoke impact, fire managers will terminate ignitions by 3 p.m.; however, residual smoke may linger in the area for a couple of days after burning operations are completed.
Signs will be posted on roads that are likely to be affected by smoke. Motorists are urged to use caution while driving thru these areas and to slow down for the safety of firefighters and the public.
Prescribed fire treatments are always dependent on weather conditions, such as temperature, relative humidity, wind speed and direction. Broadcast fire treatments typically continue for several days and are conducted when fuel moisture content of the vegetation and weather conditions are favorable.
Low-to-moderate winds are needed to carry flames and to dissipate smoke during and after ignition operations and to achieve beneficial effects sought by land managers. Fire treatments are closely monitored, and suppression actions are taken if fire behavior is not meeting resource management objectives.
Since 2001, Tonto National Forest fire specialists have been integrating cost-effective fire prevention, fire suppression, and prescribed fire strategies in a safe and effective manner.
In 2014, fire specialists accomplished 4,774 acres of fire treatments, and have completed 34 acres since January 1, 2015. The goal of these efforts are to enhance the natural resources on the Tonto National Forest by supporting healthy forest landscapes, watersheds and wildlife habitat, while reducing the risk of catastrophic wildfires.