February Fire Update: Stable Weather Assists Firefighters

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Posted 8:25 p.m.

Acres burned as of Sunday night: 3,070 acres

Stable weather conditions throughout the day on Sunday assisted firefighters in continued burnout operations on the February Fire. Several firefighter crews and engine crews are camped out at Camp Geronimo Boy Scout Camp and Bray Creek Ranch maintaining a protective vigil.

Progress has been steady since the Arizona Central West Zone Incident
Management Team was assigned to the fire on February 9.

Incident Commander John Philbin attributes much of the successful suppression efforts to forest personnel. "The Tonto National Forest has done an outstanding job of reducing fuel loading with recent fuel thinning projects and prescribed burns," Philbin said. The incident commander also commended forest personnel on initial attack strategies and quick action in gaining additional resources needed to fight the fire.

Deputy Incident Commander Tony Sciacca said he is pleased with Sunday's progress and remains optimistic. "If the weather will continue to cooperate throughout the night, our target is to increase the burn to 4,200 acres by morning, creating what we believe will be an adequate buffer between the fire and unburned areas," Sciacca said.

In the past five years, the Tonto National Forest had conducted thinning operations on nearly five thousand acres of forestland. Prescribed burns have also been a large part of the forest's fuel reduction program. The thinned areas and previously burned areas were instrumental in stopping advance of the February Fire in several locations. The areas also provided secure anchor points for fire line construction.

photo

The February Fire as seen at night by nearby residents.

An abandoned campfire caused the fire. It is fueled by chaparral, pine and juniper in rough, broken, steep terrain 10 miles north of Payson and six miles east of Pine.

Currently, 507 personnel are engaged in suppression efforts using 22 engines, six dozers, 12 water tenders, six helicopters and two air tankers.

The Control Road (FR 64) remains closed between the Geronimo Estates Roads (FR 458) and the Washington Park Road (FR 32). Residents will have access to their properties. To protect those traveling and working along the Control Road, the speed limit is 20 mph.

The Roundup's website will continue to be updated with changes as they occur.

For further closure and fire information, see the Tonto National Forest
website, www.fs.fed.us/r3/tonto.

Related link, including fire progression map
Arizona Central West Zone Incident Management Team

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