Prescribed Burn North Of Payson To Start This Week

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Forest Rangers in the Mogollon Rim Ranger District of the Coconino National Forest are planning a prescribed burn about 30 miles north of Payson all this week.

Brienne M. Untalan with Coconino National Forest said smoke from the burn will likely drain down West Clear Creek into the Verde Valley during evening hours.

A spokesperson with Coconino National Forest said while residents in Payson and surrounding areas may see smoke in the distance, they probably wouldn't experience any smoky conditions from the burn.

The burns are to continue through Friday approximately three miles southeast of the Happy Jack Ranger Station near Forest Highway 3 and adjacent to Forest Road 93 (Lake Mary Road), and south to Forest Road 81A.

Untalan said motorists on Forest Highway 3 could expect smoky conditions both during day and evening hours.

The Wilkins wildfire in Coconino National Forest, 70 miles north of Payson, continues to grow, but is within containment lines, public affairs officer for Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest Bob Dyson said.

He said flames remain at or below one foot in height and continue to be beneficial to the forest environment.

"The Wilkins Fire is providing benefits to the forest similar to those of a prescribed burn," Dyson said.

He said the fire is expected to continue burning, as long as above average temperatures allow, or until it reaches established perimeters at Forest Roads 225, 62, 62A, and 115 (about 11,00 acres).

Dyson said no structures are threatened, and the 17 wildfire fighters still battling the Wilkins Fire have successfully halted its forward, or northeast progress.

The Haigler Fire, 30 miles northeast of Payson, is still within defensible containment lines, Dyson said.

He said crews had hoped to put it out over the weekend, but above average temperatures kept it going longer than expected.

"This is only my opinion, but I think we probably won't be able to completely extinguish it until some slightly cooler temperatures arrive," Dyson said.

"There is very little actual fire still burning," Dyson said. "Any fire that still exists is in the interior and producing very little smoke."

He said residents of Tonto Basin and Christopher Creek, who have experienced smoky conditions for a week, should already have noticed a marked decrease in smoke since Friday.

Dyson said there might be some residual smoke for a few more days, but if all goes as planned, crews hope to have the fire 100 percent controlled by this weekend.

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