This weekend’s weather will determine what and where fire managers choose to burn this week. Fire managers are tentatively planning for both broadcast burn and pile burn projects across the forest.
Drier conditions may allow for continued broadcast burning, applying low intensity fire across the forest floor to consume small debris and ground litter. Frequent low intensity fires are natural and necessary components of a healthy forest. This ecosystem depends on fire to promote new vegetation, enhance habitat and reduce the threat of catastrophic fire — which also improves public and firefighter safety — by reducing the accumulated fuels that could otherwise contribute to more intense fire behavior under hotter/drier conditions.
Alternately, if the forest receives adequate rain and snow, fire managers may switch to pile burning efforts — burning piles of debris left over from thinning projects. Pile burning requires a considerable amount of moisture in the surrounding vegetation to help keep fire from creeping. Pile burning typically produces much lighter smoke than broadcast burning.
Oak Creek Canyon Piles — 50 acres of pile burning located on the south end of Oak Creek Canyon, between Manzanita Campground and Indian Gardens. Crews will burn if the area receives enough moisture.
The Bly Pit, located on the Mogollon Rim Ranger District near Blue Ridge.
Miscellaneous piles located throughout the Mogollon Rim District
All prescribed fire activity is dependent on personnel availability, weather — including winds and ventilation, and approval from the ADEQ (www.azdeq.gov).
Fire managers make every effort to minimize smoke impacts to the communities while continuing to address the critical need to reduce the risk of severe wildfires around those communities. Tactics to keep smoke impacts as minimal as possible include canceling approved burns when conditions aren’t favorable, finding alternative uses for the debris in slash piles, timing daytime ignitions to allow the majority of smoke time to disperse prior to settling overnight, and burning larger sections at a time when conditions are favorable.