Three, possibly human caused, wildfires were started in the Black Mesa Ranger District this past weekend.
October is normally an active prescribed fire season on the national forests across Arizona but human-caused wildfires have recently become a problem on the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests.
Over the weekend of Oct.17 and 18, several fires were started on the Black Mesa Ranger District and all of them spread relatively quickly due to the dry conditions. The Bachelor Fire started atop the Mogollon Rim near Forest Road 9512E which is south of Highway 260 and west of the Young Road (FR 512).
It is estimated at 60 acres today and is burning downhill in very steep terrain in ponderosa pine vegetation toward the Colcord subdivision. The subdivision is not threatened at this time and there are no evacuations ordered.
Gila County officials have been notified to ensure that evacuation plans are in place should the need arise.
The fire is expected to burn further into Colcord Canyon and is presently about two miles from any structures.
Firefighters are constructing handlines in the rugged terrain to protect structures while bulldozers and engines are working the more level parts of the fire.
Smoke is visible from Highway 260. About 75 firefighters are assigned to this fire from the Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, and the Arizona Department of Corrections.
The Palomino Fire started over the weekend and is located about three miles northeast of Woods Canyon Lake burning in grass and small fuels and is estimated at about 35 acres. It was lined by crews on Sunday and is being monitored at this time. No structures are threatened.
The Camp Knoll Fire is estimated at 60 acres and burning in grass and downed, woody fuels within the Rodeo/Chediski Fire about three miles south of Heber.
No structures are threatened and crews today continue to construct a containment line. Smoke may be visible in the Heber and Overgaard areas.
All three of these fires may be human-caused and investigators continue to collect evidence.
The availability of firefighting resources has been limited because most crews and seasonal employees have been laid off for the season.
The Forest Service is actively suppressing these fires, keeping their acreage to a minimum, and not managing them solely for resource benefits which would have taken a longer time to complete.
Visitors to the national forests are cautioned that leaving a campfire unattended or inadequately extinguishing a campfire is illegal and violators may be assessed the cost of suppressing a wildfire.