(Posted May 7, 2012 at 8:40 p.m.) Pending favorable conditions tomorrow, Tuesday May 8, fire managers on the Flagstaff District of the Coconino National Forest are planning to continue prescribed burning efforts north of Flagstaff in Hart Prairie.
Crews will burn 350 acres in increments of 100 acres north of Flagstaff, west of the San Francisco Peaks, east of Highway 180 and south of Forest Road 794. Smoke will be visible from Flagstaff and will disperse to the northwest toward Kendrick Park with the forecast winds.
Smoke may be noticeable on Highway 180. If winds become light, some residual smoke will drain south and west across Hwy 180 and toward the Bellemont area overnight.
Because Hart Prairie is at a higher elevation than Flagstaff, fuels in the area are just becoming dry enough to burn. Fire managers have been watching for this window of opportunity - the area has sufficiently dried, green-up has yet to occur extensively, and other conditions are ideal. These burns are a critical part of ongoing efforts to regenerate aspen which have been in decline, and to reduce the risk of a severe fire on the west side of the Peaks.
All prescribed fire activity is dependent on personnel availability, weather – including winds and ventilation – and approval from the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality.
Fire managers make every effort to minimize smoke impacts to the communities while continuing to address the critical need to reduce the risk of severe wildfires around those communities. Tactics to keep smoke impacts as minimal as possible include cancelling burns when conditions aren’t favorable, finding alternative uses for the debris in slash piles, timing ignitions to allow the majority of smoke time to disperse prior to settling overnight, and burning larger sections at a time when conditions are favorable to reduce the overall number of days smoke is in the area.
In addition, the Coconino National Forest coordinates prescribed fire plans with the partners of the Ponderosa Fire Advisory Council (which includes state and local fire departments), as well as neighboring forests, to reduce the impact of smoke on the communities.
The public can obtain additional prescribed fire information via the following:
- Prescribed Fire Hotline: 928-226-4607
- Coconino National Forest Website
- Local Ranger Stations: Flagstaff Ranger District, 928-526-0866; Red Rock Ranger District (Sedona) 928-203-2900; Mogollon Rim Ranger District (Blue Ridge) 928-477-2255.
(Source: Coconino National Forest)