Arizona this weekend started its fire season after all, with the 7,500-acre Mountain Fire burning toward Horseshoe and Bartlett lakes.
The Forest Service immediately threw 250 firefighters and air resources into the fight to contain the dangerous new blaze some eight miles east of Cave Creek.
The human-caused fire is burning in grass and brush dried out by temperatures topping 100 degrees in the Valley. Crews have the fire 50 percent contained.
Meanwhile, the 6,100-acre Coldwater Fire just four miles south of Clints Well atop the Rim continued to burn through the ponderosa pine and mixed conifer forest, still contained in a 15,000-acre planning area.
The appearance of a private drone briefly shut down air operations on that fire for fear it would cause a crash.
Fire crews had been using drones of their own to keep tabs on the fire and even set back fires by dropping incendiary devices.
Crews conducted burnout operations along Highway 87 to keep the fire contained.
Thanks to damp fuels after a wet winter, the fire continues to mostly burn along the ground — doing more good than harm by thinning out brush, saplings and debris.
The wet winter allowed crews to manage rather than suppress fires even into June — at least in the high country.
The backfires caused intermittent closures of the highway through the weekend due to thick smoke. The fire is only 15 percent contained, but that’s mostly because 119 firefighters want the fire to move through the planning area to reduce the threat of worse fires in the future.
In other fire news
• The 500-acre Woodbury Fire on Saturday started several miles northwest of Superior in rugged territory near the Woodbury Trailhead. The human-caused fire grew to 500 acres overnight.
• The 8,600-acre Maroon Fire, 18 miles northeast of Flagstaff, is now 50 percent contained and burning within the planned area — with just 31 firefighters keeping taps to make sure embers don’t jump the perimeter.
• Several deliberately set prescribed fires in the still cool and damp high country continue to burn including the 260-acre Spring-Summer Fire north of Flagstaff and the 2,500-acre Kaibab NF South Zone Prescribed Fire,
Contact the writer at firstname.lastname@example.org