Crews To Burn Another 645 Acres Near Golf Course

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The feverish effort to burn as much brush as possible during the cool, low-risk fire season could once again make for a smoky week in Rim communities.

If the weather allows, crews from the Tonto National Forest will once again burn brush and slash piles on up to 645 acres south of the Payson Golf Course throughout this week. The fires should produce “moderate to heavy” smoke during the day, dissipating by evening.

At night, smoke from those fires should drift down Lousy Gulch and Rye Creek.

In the past three years, the Forest Service has moved aggressively to hand-thin overgrown forests on the outskirts of Payson, Pine, Strawberry, Star Valley and other Rim communities.

The burns south of Payson are designed to block a major fire corridor leading into town, where summertime prevailing winds make the danger most acute. Within about a mile of town, crews hand-thin trees and brush leaving slash piles that can be burned right through the winter once they dry out.

Farther out, the Tonto National Forest has identified thousands of acres of land for “broadcast burns,” in which crews make fire breaks or take advantage of roads to burn one chunk of land at a time during the wet, cool periods when the fires can be contained.

Rim Country could also get smoke drifting in from an even more ambitious set of controlled fires designed to protect the community of Young in the Pleasant Valley Ranger District.

The Forest Service plans to burn nearly 5,000 acres just south of Young in December, part of 42,000 acres slated for burning in the next several years. Starting this week, crews hope to set fire to several hundred acres per day.

In addition, Coconino National Forest crews this week may continue controlled burns in the vicinity of West Clear Creek and the Blue Ridge Reservoir. Last week, winds pushed smoke from controlled burns in that area atop the Rim into Payson, creating a smoky haze for several days in town.

Residents can stay updated on burn schedules at www.fs.fed.us/r3/tonto. People concerned about the impact of the smoke on their health can go to http://www.azdeq. gov/index.html.

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