The lightning-caused Sitgreaves Complex that is being managed to improve forest health on the Kaibab National Forest continued growing at a moderated pace as an increase in thunderstorms bringing higher relative humidities has diminished activity.
Yesterday’s fire activity on the Sitgreaves Complex was relegated to creeping and smoldering as cloud cover dominated the fire area. Light showers were observed over parts of the planning area. Smoke was lighter and dispersed locally.
Higher volumes of smoke will be seen on areas that receive more sunshine during daylight hours. Much of the smoke was generated along the southwest side of the fire. The smoke volume is expected to be much less than what was seen over the weekend.
The impact of smoke to communities is one of the biggest challenges faced by fire managers, who are attempting to restore ecological function by allowing fire to perform its role as a critical natural process.
Efforts are made to limit smoke production in a variety of ways, including by conducting management ignitions only on certain days and at certain times when prevailing winds and weather conditions are expected to move smoke away from populated areas. However, it’s not always possible to prevent all smoke impacts when managing a long-duration wildland fire such as the Sitgreaves Complex, which has been burning since July 13.
“As fire managers, the smoke from these fires is at the forefront of our discussions daily and often hourly, and mitigation measures are incorporated as much as possible,” said James Pettit, Fire Management Officer for the Williams Ranger District. “We’re constantly weighing the smoke impacts to the people of Northern Arizona and we greatly appreciate the patience people have shown us during this long duration fire. We’re confident that the patience that has been shown will be repaid with a healthier and safer part of the forest for many years to come”.
Fire effects on forest vegetation continue to be desirable, achieving many of the benefits to resources that fire managers are seeking. Fire managers are confident these conditions will continue throughout the duration.
The Sitgreaves Complex grew significantly over the last several days and the current size is 10,422 acres. Fire managers expect continued growth although with moderate chances of rain over the next several days, the growth will be much slower than what was seen during the drying trend last week.
Today, crews will patrol and ensure established containment lines are holding. Some management ignitions will also occur along the southwest side of the fire area as weather permits.