If you spotted smoke north of Payson this afternoon, it is because fire specialists are burning 210 acres of vegetative debris piles about nine miles north of Payson near Shadow Rim Girl Scout Ranch.
They will burn brush piles Thursday, Feb. 6 and Friday, Feb. 7.
Residents and visitors to the area can expect to see and smell light-to-moderate amounts of smoke during the three-day operation.
Besides the burn area, smoke will impact Shadow Rim, Verde Glen, and Rim Trail during the day.
In the evening, smoke will impact Whispering Pines and Beaver Valley. Residual smoke may linger in these areas through Sunday, Feb. 2.
To minimize smoke impacts, fire personnel will end ignitions by 3 p.m. each day.
Crews will post signs on roads likely affected by smoke. They urge motorists to use caution when driving through the area.
Fire provides managers the option of treating areas with favorable conditions, which helps to protect natural and cultural resources, while decreasing danger to the public and firefighters. These burns enhance range, watershed, and wildlife habitat.
Tonto officials received permission to conduct prescribed fire burns in the area despite the ongoing legal matter involving a court-ordered injunction on select timber management activities for New Mexico national forests as well as the Tonto National Forest regarding potential effects to the Mexican spotted owl.
Prescribed fires always are dependent on the right weather and are closely monitored.