KNAU and Arizona News
5:00 am
Tue April 1, 2014

A Pair of Wildfires on the Coconino Keeps Forest Officials Alert

This past weekend, two wildfires ignited near Flagstaff. As Arizona Public Radio’s Ryan Heinsius reports, though crews responded quickly, both fires are burning in remote, hard-to-reach areas.

A stump burns in Paradise Canyon on the Boulder Fire.
A stump burns in Paradise Canyon on the Boulder Fire.
Credit By Jon Tepley, Flagstaff Ranger District. Courtesy of the U.S. Forest Service, Coconino National Forest


The six-acre Secret Fire started about 20 miles southwest of Flagstaff in a remote area of the Coconino National Forest. It’s now almost completely contained. The Boulder Fire is burning on Mt. Elden. It’s been slow to spread, but fighting the fire has been difficult on the steep, rocky terrain.

The Mesa Hotshots from the Tonto National Forest mop up a stump hole on the Boulder Fire.
The Mesa Hotshots from the Tonto National Forest mop up a stump hole on the Boulder Fire.
Credit By Jon Tepley, Flagstaff Ranger District. Courtesy of the U.S. Forest Service, Coconino National Forest

Last weekend, high winds allowed both fires to advance despite somewhat moist conditions in area forests. According to Don Muise, fire and aviation staff officer on the Coconino National Forest, each spring creates challenges for fire officials.

“Access has been a little restricted because you couldn’t drive a lot of the roads. Now that we opened up the gates, people are getting rid of this cabin fever and getting out and enjoying the forest … With the increase of folks being out then there there’s always that increase of risk,” Muise says.

He says both the Secret and Boulder fires were most likely human caused, but that they remain under investigation. Sixteen personnel are on scene at the Boulder Fire including members of the Mesa Hotshots from the Tonto National Forest. No structures are threatened by the fire.

Muise is hopeful that the potential of rain later this week could lessen wildfire danger in the national forests. He also says discussions regarding a campfire and smoking ban are ongoing among Coconino National Forest officials, but no plans have yet been made.