Forest Preparing For Prescribed Burns Near Pine

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Dan Eckstein, assistant fire management officer with the Payson Ranger District, said residents in Pine can expect to see some prescribed burning within the next few days.


"And we may be doing some broadcast burning west of Whispering Pines and south of the Control Road, and perhaps the Christopher Creek-Hunter Creek area," he said. "A lot depends on the weather."


Forest officials make their burning decisions based on field moisture, wind direction and speed, relative humidity and temperature, he said.


"These warm days, we won't be doing too much," he said. "It tends to dry out too fast."


Starting next week, forest crews will consolidate wood and brush piles, which will be burned next winter. The work will be conducted on the flat and gentle slopes north and east of Pine.


"We'll also be doing some work around Camp Geronimo," Eckstein said.


Eckstein called the current fire danger in the forest moderate to high as the warm days tend to dry out the small fuel in the forest quickly.


"Days are long, and with warm temperatures things just change real fast," he said. "The snow and rains we had in March helped the larger fuels -- the logs -- but the real fine fuels, (such as) the pine needles, dry out real quick. We're right on the boundary right now."


He said the area around the Rim has received some moisture, but much of the Tonto National Forest is experiencing a moisture deficit this winter.


"We've had better than five and a half inches for the year. Normal would be around eight inches. There was no moisture at all between Sept. 23 through Dec. 30.


"The recent rains have helped," he said. "But unless we get more moisture this spring, we may go into restrictions. A lot of factors contribute to that. We're hoping we don't have closures in the forest this summer."


Eckstein said he wants to warn people who are camping in the forest to prevent wildfires by extinguishing their campfires. He said the ground needs to be cleared to mineral soil at least 10 feet around the campfire ring.

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