Firefighters on Burro Fire make stand at Redington Pass Road

On the map of the Burro Fire, above, the red and brown squares on the north and southeast sides indicate new growth Tuesday and Tuesday night. The red line was the perimeter early Tuesday morning. The white line shows where it was early Monday morning.

(Originally published at 10:10 a.m. MDT July 5, 2017)

Firefighters battling the Burro Fire northeast of Tucson, Arizona were also fighting extreme heat again Tuesday. On the southeast side of the fire they successfully kept the fire north of Redington Pass Road and protected ranch buildings in the area.

On the northeast side steep, rugged terrain and a lack of roads means directly confronting the fire will be very difficult, at best. For now they will rely mainly on air resources to slow the fire’s progress in this area. Contingency plans are in place, should fire activity become a threat to infrastructure or other resources.

The Incident Management Team said Wednesday morning the fire had been mapped at 23,238 acres, growth of more than 4,000 acres from the day before.

Resources assigned to the fire include 594 total personal, 14 hand crews, 33 engines, 19 water tenders and 7 helicopters. The number of air tankers varies throughout the day.

Evacuations are still in effect along the Catalina Highway from Mile Marker 0, north including Summerhaven.

The weather forecast for Wednesday at the 4,000-foot level on the Redington Pass Road where firefighters are presently working predicts 102 degrees, 12 percent relative humidity, and northwest winds at 12 mph gusting to 17.

Check out this 57-second video of Fire Behavior Analyst Stewart Turner describing the expected fire activity for Wednesday.

In the video below, I don’t know about a “storm”, but the Burro Fire, like many rapidly spreading intense fires, did create a pyrocumulus cloud (in the left part of the image).

Burro Fire near Tucson grows to over 19,000 acres

Above: Map of the perimeter of the Burro Fire. The red line was current at 11 pm MDT July 3, 2017. The white line was from 26 hours earlier.

(Originally published at 8:15 a.m. MDT July 4, 2017)
(Updated at 10:06 a.m. MDT July 4, 2017)

The Burro Fire on Monday expanded by another 7,770 acres to bring the total area burned up to 19,057 acres. It grew on the north side by about 1.5 miles and by 2. 5 miles on the south, but on the west side it is not much closer to the Catalina (Mt. Lemmon) Highway than it was Monday morning and is still more than a mile away. It is still about four miles from the northeastern outskirts of Tucson.

Firefighters are working on indirect firelines and protecting structures along the Catalina (Mt. Lemmon) Highway on the west side. On the south firefighters continued preparations along Redington Pass Road in case they need to protect or fire out from the road. Natural barriers are also being used to aid in suppression efforts.

map Burro Fire Tucson Arizona
A 3-D map of the perimeter of the Burro Fire looking southwest. The red line was current at 11pm MDT July 3, 2017. The white line was from 26 hours earlier.

On the lower slopes the fire is burning in tall grass and brush, with Ponderosa Pine and mixed conifer at the higher elevations. The fire covers an area ranging from 3,000 to 7,000 feet above sea level.

Airtankers and helicopters were used Monday to help delay the fire’s spread. With the high temperatures expected on Tuesday, the use of aircraft may be limited if it becomes too hot to fly as the density altitude becomes a problem.

The temperatures Tuesday will vary widely with the elevation. At 4,000′ the temperature should reach 100 degrees in mid-afternoon with 14 percent relative humidity and 10 mph winds out of the northwest gusting to 17. Higher up the mountain at 7,600′ the high will be 81, with 22 percent relative humidity and northwest winds at 10 with gusts to 15. Similar conditions are in the forecast for the rest of this week.

There is a chance of isolated thunderstorms Tuesday which could bring troublesome strong, erratic winds.

map Burro Fire Tucson Arizona
Map of the perimeter of the Burro Fire. The red line was current at 11pm MDT July 3, 2017. The white line was from 26 hours earlier.

An evacuation order is in effect for all residents along the Catalina (Mt. Lemmon) Highway from Mile Marker 0, to Summer Haven. The highway is closed. No public, including residents, will be allowed access into the area. The Redington Pass Road is closed between Mile Marker 2 and 14.

Three large wildfires in Southeast Arizona continue to spread

Above: Map showing three large wildfires in Southeast Arizona, July 2, 2017:  Burro, Frye, and Hilltop fires.

(Originally published at 9:38 a.m. MDT July 3, 2017)

Much of the wildfire activity in the United States over the last several weeks has occurred in Arizona. Currently there are three large fires in the southeast part of the state:

Frye Fire — This 45,000-acre fire is burning on the steep slopes of Mt. Graham in the Pinaleno Mountain Range in a wilderness area southwest of Safford. It is a limited suppression incident.

Burro Fire –Six miles northeast of the outskirts of Tucson. Evacuations are occurring. We have more information about this 14,000-acre fire here.

Hilltop Fire — This 8,600-acre fire 27 miles northeast of Globe has been burning since June 25. It is on the San Carlos Apache Reservation and is threatening timber, cultural resources, recreation areas, and wildlife habitat.

Burro fire near Tucson closes road to Mt. Lemmon

Above: 3-D map of the Burro Fire showing the perimeter at 8:30 p.m. MDT July 2, 2017. Looking southwest.

(Originally published at 8:20 a.m. MDT July 3, 2017.)

The Burro Fire is causing evacuations near Tucson, Arizona in the Mt. Lemmon area. The fire was reported June 30 on the southeast side of Mt. Lemmon in the foothills of Redington Pass and as of 8:30 p.m. MDT on Sunday had spread for six miles to within a mile of the Mt. Lemmon Highway. At that time it had burned about 11,300 acres according to an overnight mapping flight, which is an increase of over 6,000 acres from the last estimate. Monday morning the Incident Management Team estimated it had grown to about 14,000 acres.

The Burro Fire is 6 miles northeast of the outskirts of Tucson and 20 miles east of Interstate 10.

Burro Fire Mt Lemmon Tucson Arizona June 2, 2017
Burro Fire, July 2, 2017. Inciweb photo.

The Pima County Office of Emergency Management’s notices on their Facebook page are a little vague about what areas are being evacuated and when, but a news release from the Incident Management team said Summerhaven is being evacuated as well as the Mt. Lemmon Highway from Mile Marker 0 up to Palisades Road. Other locations are on a pre-evacuation notice. Residents can call 928-351-7537 for more information.

Map Burro Fire
Map of the Burro Fire, showing the perimeter at 8:30 p.m. MDT July 2, 2017.

Three DC-10 air tankers help firefighters slow growth of Goodwin Fire in Arizona

Above: Goodwin Fire, June 27, 2017. Photo by Christina Montiel, U.S. Forest Service.

(Originally published at 10:50 a.m. MDT June 29, 2017)

Firefighters were successful Wednesday in halting the spread of the Goodwin Fire near Mayer, Arizona. There was very little movement of the fire yesterday except for the southwest corner and the north side.

The southwest side spread about a quarter mile to the south, while the north side was very active, moving in some areas about 1.5 miles north along 5 miles of fire perimeter.

The growth added about 4,100 acres to the fire, bringing the total size to 24,828 acres.

map Goodwin fire
Map of the Goodwin Fire. The red dots represent heat detected by a satellite at 4:17 a.m. MDT June 29. The Red line was the perimeter at 11 p.m. MDT June 28, while the white line was the perimeter at 2:30 a.m. MDT June 28, 2017.

Over 150 firefighters worked Tuesday night creating dozer lines between the fire and Mayer. Those lines were burned out Wednesday which prevented any significant growth toward the town. Firefighters were able to contain the 500 acres that burned east of Highway 69 between Poland Junction and Mayer. Wednesday morning the fire spread into a basin toward Poland Junction, but winds were lighter and the relative humidity did not drop to the low levels that contributed to Tuesday’s expansion.

Evacuations are still in place for several communities and Highway 69 is closed. There has been no change in the number of structures reportedly destroyed — it remains at nine, and it is unknown if they are residences or outbuildings.

Three very large air tankers, DC-10’s that carry 11,600 gallons of fire retardant, assisted firefighters on the ground Wednesday, reducing the fire’s intensity around endangered structures. The DC-10’s are often used on wildfires, but there are only three of the “Very Large Air Tankers” on contract with the federal government, and it is unusual for all of them to be working the same fire. They were reloading with retardant at Phoenix Mesa-Gateway airport 80 miles southeast of the fire.

Rick Hatton, President and CEO of 10 Tanker Air Carrier, said their three DC-10’s completed a total of 14 sorties to the Goodwin Fire during 16 total hours of flying Wednesday. He said the facilities and crews at the air tanker base accommodated the three huge aircraft very well.

Two of the aircraft are on exclusive use contracts with the U.S. Forest Service, and a third is on a call when needed contract.

Even though $2.4 million was spent in 2014 to improve the apron and plumbing at the air tanker base at Prescott, 15 miles from the fire, it was not designed to handle Very Large Air Tankers. But it can handle the “large” or “heavy” air tankers, such as the 2,000 to 3,500 gallon P2V, BAe-146, RJ85, MD-87, 737, and C-130.

And, as you can see below, Prescott makes a good temporary home for the helicopters working the Goodwin Fire.

An illegally operated drone flew into the fire area Wednesday, forcing all firefighting aircraft to be grounded for safety reasons. Law enforcement responded and is investigating the incident. Hobbyist drone operators are reminded that “if you fly, we can’t fly.” There is a Temporary Flight Restriction (TFR) over the fire area and it is against federal law to fly a drone within the restricted area.

In the video below you will see what appears to be a privately owned Blackhawk helicopter, a Firehawk, dropping retardant. Most of the time helicopters drop water directly on the flames, but the long term retardant can be effective when applied ahead of the fire.

Another helicopter dropping retardant:

Goodwin Fire crosses Highway 69 at Mayer, grows to 20,000 acres

Above: 3-D map of the Goodwin Fire at 9 p.m. MDT June 27, 2017.

(Originally published at 7:04 a.m. MDT June 28, 2017)
(Updated at 11:45 a.m. MDT June 28, 2017)

Wednesday morning the Goodwin fire was five times larger than it was 24 hours earlier. Southwest winds and low humidities caused it to spread to the northeast threatening the town of Mayer, Arizona which was under a mandatory evacuation order. It crossed highway 69 just north of the town and as of 9 p.m. Tuesday had spread for another two miles east of the highway, growing to about 20,600 acres. The previous night it was at 4,400 acres and had expanded to about 12,000 acres by 2:40 p.m. Tuesday.

The weather forecast for Wednesday is not good news for firefighters. The outlook is for 93 degrees, 11 percent relative humidity, and by noon the wind should increase to 12 to 15 mph out of the south to southwest with gusts to 27.

At a media briefing Wednesday at 11:20 a.m., Incident Commander John Pierson said an area of fuel mitigation completed by the state of Arizona north of Mayer was instrumental in helping to protect the town as the fire ran across Highway 69. He also said there is a good chance the portion of the fire that is east of the Highway can be contained by the dozers and hand crews that are working in that area.

On Wednesday air tankers began dropping retardant on the fire at 8 a.m. There are no ground troops in those locations to follow up and construct firelines, so the best firefighters can hope for, Mr. Pierson said, is that the spread of the fire will be slowed or delayed.

While the fire was making its big run Tuesday, a weather station at Sunset Point 14 miles southeast of the fire recorded a temperature of 101 degrees, 3 percent relative humidity, and 11 to 15 mph winds out of the south to southwest winds gusting at 23 to 31 mph.

map Goodwin Fire
Map of the Goodwin Fire at 9 p.m. MDT June 27, 2017.

Highway 69 is closed at Mayer. Evacuations are in effect for several communities in the area.

The National Situation Report says nine structures have burned since the fire started, but it is unclear when or where that occurred. There are no reports yet of any structures being destroyed as the fire approached Mayer. A June 27 news release from the Incident Management Team includes this information:

Goodwin Fire managers and cooperators have been receiving inquiries regarding structures damaged or destroyed during the first day of Goodwin Fire. It was reported that structures have been destroyed and the Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office personnel are working with fire officials to determine the extent of damaged structures. However, this can only be accomplished when it is safe for deputies to enter, complete an accurate assessment, and determine ownership. Efforts to expedite the release of such information is ongoing. In the meantime, the patience of those residents who have been evacuated is greatly appreciated.

Beth Lund’s Type 1 Incident Management Team which had been staged at Phoenix has been ordered for the fire. They will be working with John Pierson’s Type 1 Incident Management Team that is already there.

In the video below, smoke from the Goodwin Fire can be seen in the lower-left corner. The other fire to the north is the Brian Head Fire east of Cedar City, Utah.

All articles on Wildfire Today about the Goodwin Fire near Mayer, Arizona.