Managers on the Kaibab National Forest have been taking advantage of wetter conditions by allowing multiple wildfires to burn. But, as Arizona Public Radio’s Ryan Heinsius reports, with drier weather on the way, crews are preparing for more unpredictable fire activity.
Officials may allow the 120-acre Sitgreaves Fire near Parks in the Williams Ranger District to spread within nearly 15,000 surrounding acres. Crews are monitoring the lightning-caused blaze as it burns at a low-to-moderate intensity. Nearby, the 300-acre Duck Fire — 76 miles southeast of Fredonia — has become more active due to drier conditions.
Additionally, the 1,200-acre McRae Fire is burning south of the Grand Canyon in the Tusayan Ranger District. Forest managers could let it spread among about 11,000 acres. The 15-acre Quaking Fire in the North Kaibab Ranger District could also be allowed to spread to 1,100 acres. The blazes will help crews rid the forest of dry fuel that could contribute to catastrophic wildfires in the future.
Forest managers have closed 11,000 acres surrounding the McRae Fire. The area is being used by crews for planning, but danger to the public still exists. The closure will remain in effect until it’s rescinded by officials, or until August 15.
According to Kaibab National Forest officials, with a break in monsoon rains expected to continue, crews are conducting burnout operations. The activities are a safeguard against the fires spreading beyond control. Despite fire danger decreasing in northern Arizona forests recently, managers are keeping a close eye on all area wildfires. Officials say smoke could be visible throughout the region for the next several days.