Bachelor Fire Contained By Firefighters

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Andy Towle/Roundup - atowle@payson.com

Josh Thompson gets the water spray as high as he can on a huge ponderosa pine as the needles on the lower branches crackle and burn, quickly and hot.

A human-caused fire that burned its way into Colcord Canyon, consuming 850 acres of both the Apache-Sitgreaves and Tonto national forests was contained during the weekend.

Fire crews used fire lines to keep the Bachelor Fire from spreading to the nearby communities of Colcord Estates and Ponderosa Springs. The blaze broke out a week ago near Young Road (Forest Road 512) and Highway 260, likely due to human carelessness, fire officials said.

The fire grew rapidly from a few hundred acres to almost a thousand during the week as crews created burnouts to keep the fire contained to the canyon.

By Friday, the fire had burned 850 acres and was 80 percent contained, said Bob Dyson, with the Apache-Sitgreaves Forest Service.

“The burnout operations have been very effective in establishing defensible lines around this fire and weather conditions have generally allowed safe burning conditions,” he said.

A 20-man crew from California and 10 firefighters from Pleasant Valley continue to mop up hot spots and remove hazardous trees near the fire line Monday.

Management of the fire was turned over to the Pleasant Valley Ranger District Sunday.

No one was injured in the fire and no homes were damaged.

“The Bachelor Fire is a reminder how important it is to maintain defensible structures in subdivisions near forests and how equally important it is to keep forest vegetation managed in a condition that reduces the opportunity for fire to endanger communities,” Dyson said. “It is also a reminder how dry the forest is and how any little spark can start a major conflagration.”

Forest Road 9512E remains closed to public access.

For the upcoming week, the Forest Service has several prescribed burns planned.

On Monday, Coconino National Forest fire crews planned to burn 650 acres north of Highway 87 between the Pine Canyon Subdivision and the Clear Creek Pines Subdivision.

Crews were expecting a south wind, which would move smoke away from the highway. Some residual smoke may settle in the area overnight. For the remainder of the week, fire crews will consider continuing the East Clear Creek Project near Knoll Lake and Forest Road 300.

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