Cedar Fire near Show Low, Arizona

(UPDATED at 10 a.m. MDT June 24, 2016)

cedar fire helicopter
Helicopter refilling water bucket on Cedar Fire. Undated & uncredited photo from InciWeb.

The Cedar Fire south of Show Low, Arizona continues to spread across the Arizona landscape. The Incident Management Team reports that it has burned 45,918 acres, an increase of about 5,000 acres over the last two days. Firefighters still have miles of open fire perimeter and have been working on constructing firelines and conducting burnouts on the east and west flanks.

Map Cedar Fire
Map of the Cedar Fire perimeter at 9 p.m. MDT June 23, 2016.

SR-60 between Carrizo and Show Low remains closed due to smoke conditions as firefighters actively work near the highway. SR-73 through Whiteriver remains open from Carrizo to Hon-Dah.

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(UPDATED at 9:42 a.m. MDT June 22, 2016)

3-D Map Cedar Fire
3-D Map of the Cedar Fire at 10 p.m. MDT June 21, 2016. Looking north.Click to enlarge.

The Cedar Fire south of Show Low Arizona added another 5,000 acres on Tuesday to bring the number acres burned up to 40,340, according to the Southwest Geographic Area Coordination Center. Most of the growth was on the east side, and on the west side near Highway 60.

The southern perimeter is still approximately 1 1⁄2 miles north of Highway 73, and approximately 2 miles north of the Cedar Creek community. The north side of the fire remains fairly quiet.

Map Cedar Fire
The brown shaded areas show the additional growth of the Cedar Fire as of 10 p.m. MDT June 21, 2016. The white line is the perimeter from 24 hours before. Click to enlarge.
Progression map Cedar Fire
Progression map of the Cedar Fire, June 21, 2016. Click to enlarge.

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(UPDATED at 8:20 a.m. MDT, June 21, 2016)

map Cedar Fire
The red line was the perimeter of the Cedar Fire at 4:13 a.m. MDT June 21, 2016. The white line was the perimeter from about 24 hours before. Click to enlarge.

The Cedar Fire south of Show Low, Arizona continued to grow substantially on Monday adding another 9,000 acres to bring the total burned area up to about 35,000 acres. The fire was active on the southwest and south sides, but was extremely active on the east side where it spread over two miles further east.

The Incident Management Team (IMT) has posted a video briefing on the fire that was recorded on Monday.

The IMT also posted on Monday their analysis for the Projected Incident Activity:

Continued spread due to fire growth and burnout operations is expected on the south and southeast flanks. For the next 12, 24, and 48 hour periods, fire growth is expected on the south and east flanks resulting in 2,500 acres growth in each period. 72 hours out fire growth is expected on the south flank resulting in 3,000 acres growth.

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(UPDATED at 12:23 p.m. MDT June 20, 2016)

Cedar Fire
The Cedar Fire. InciWeb photo. The date is uncertain, but it may be June 19, 2016 at 8:30 a.m..

The Cedar Fire south of Show Low, Arizona was very active Sunday pushed by 10-12 mph winds gusting up to 20 mph out of the north. Combined with 95-degree heat and 4 percent relative humidity the fire doubled in size, spreading south adding more than 13,000 acres to what is now a total of 26,739 acres, according to the incident management team.

Map of Cedar Fire
The Cedar Fire as mapped by a USFS aircraft at 10 p.m. MDT June 19, 2016. The area south of the pink line burned in the 24-hour period before 10 p.m. June 19.

The fire has crossed the Cedar Creek drainage and Sunday night was approximately 2.5 miles north of the community of Cedar Creek. That community is under a pre-evacuation notice.

From the incident management team Monday morning:

Early [Monday] morning, the winds did shift and are now coming from the south. The wind will limit future fire growth to the south. There is potential for the eastern flank to actively move through Cedar Creek drainage to the northeast. Firefighters were able to prepare and conduct burnout operations along the eastern flank of the fire near Faught Saddle, tying in a critical piece of the northeastern flank of the fire with completed line.

The Incident Management Team has identified new areas where they believe they can safely and effectively re-engage and firefighters will be ground-truthing those options throughout the day [Monday].

As of [Monday] morning, resources include 23 Fire Crews, 37 Engines, 7 Dozers, 11 Water Tenders, 7 Helicopters, and 4 Single Engine Air Tankers (SEATs) for a total of 770 personnel assigned to the incident.

The temperature on Monday in the fire area will be around 100, with 10 mph south winds of 10 mph gusting to 20, and a relative humidity of 11 percent. Tuesday will be cooler with a higher RH.

Weather forecast Cedar Fire
Weather forecast Cedar Fire 6-20-2016. Click to enlarge.

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(UPDATED at 10:05 a.m. MDT June 19, 2016)

Aerial view Cedar Fire
Aerial view of the Cedar Fire. Undated InciWeb photo.

The Cedar Fire 10 miles south of Show Low Arizona was very active on the south side Saturday. While firelines held on the west, north, and east sides, the fire has grown by almost a mile on the south side in the last two days. This was due in part to a change in wind direction — from the southwest to the north-northwest. The incident management team is calling the fire 12,140 acres, a 3,000-acre increase over the last two days.

Map Cedar Fire 251 am MDT June 19, 2016
Map showing the perimeters on the Cedar Fire at 10 p.m. June 17 (the white line) and at 2:51 a.m. on June 19 (the red line). Click to enlarge.

Crews are preparing lines on the south side from which they can conduct burnout operations to stop the spread in that area, the last remaining open line on the fire. The burnouts will likely occur during the night. Firefighters have strengthened and secured western containment lines along Highway 60 and northern containment lines along the B65 road.

The northerly component winds are expected to continue at the fire site through the day on Sunday at 8 mph, then switching to come from the east late Sunday night and becoming more southerly on Monday at 8 to 13 mph. The temperature will be in the mid-90s both days with the relative humidity at 8 to 13 percent. These conditions on Sunday and Monday should be conducive to additional fire spread. For Tuesday through Saturday there is a slight cooling trend with an 8 to 16 percent chance of rain and humidities in the high teens.

Weather forecast Cedar Fire
Weather forecast for the Cedar Fire area, June 19 through 25. NWS. Click to enlarge.

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(UPDATED at 8:12 p.m. MDT June 18, 2016)

This is virtual flyover of the site of the Cedar Fire 10 miles south of Show Low, Arizona, showing the fire perimeter as of 10 p.m. MDT June 17. There is also a quick stop at the Show Low Airport with photos of the helicopters that assisted firefighters on the ground by dropping water.

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(UPDATED at 6:37 a.m. MDT June 18, 2016)

Check out Tom Story’s photo story about helicopter operations for the Cedar Fire at the Show Low Airport.

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(UPDATED at 8:15 p.m. MDT Jun3 17, 2016)

The incident management team on the Cedar Fire south of Show Low, Arizona reported late Friday afternoon that even though there was a fair amount of smoke on the southeastern portion of the fire, the containment lines being established there have held so far. Firefighters are continuing to work their way south and southwest.

Satellite data at 3 p.m. MDT today indicated that much of the area on the east flank between the backburn and the main fire showed a great deal of heat, which could mean the backburn at that time was approaching the main fire, and may have already met in some areas. This is good news —  if the two fires meet and there are no spot fires across the line, that’s a big step in the right direction.

At about 10 a.m. on Friday, the incident management team released this information:

Fire crews made good progress yesterday and continued to work throughout the night. Crews successfully conducted burnout operations along the B41 road to establish an eastern containment line. Crews also strengthened western containment lines along Highway 60 and northern containment lines ¼ mile from the B65 road. An infrared flight mapped the current fire size at 9,652 acres, approximately 8.3 miles south of Pinetop-Lakeside and 11.4 miles south of Show Low. The fire is moving in a northeast direction, influenced by wind, topography and fuels. Much of the current operational success is due to the hard work and efforts of the initial attack resources and their foresight in ordering the Type 3 Team until the Type 1 Team could assume command.

US Highway 60 is closed eastbound and westbound from mile post 318 at State Route 73 to mile post 337 at Show Low. Evacuation orders remain in place for the community of Forestdale. Show Low, Pinetop-Lakeside and the immediate surrounding areas are under pre-evacuation notice.

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(UPDATED at 6:55 a.m. MDT, June 17, 2016)

map Cedar Fire
Map showing the perimeter of the Cedar Fire at 2:30 a.m. MDT June 17, 2016. Click to enlarge.

The latest map of the Cedar Fire southwest of Show Low, Arizona shows that it has burned approximately 9,000 acres. Firefighters employing an indirect strategy have been working on a four-mile long black line, or burnout, ahead of the fire on the east side, as the main fire continues to spread toward that line. The expectation is that the fire will progress to the burnout, where the fuel has already been consumed, and stop.

It is a bold strategy, and if successful, will be brilliant. Usually large-scale backfires or burnouts in timber take days to plan and prepare, getting all of the right personnel, supplies, and equipment in place. Sometimes the fuels adjacent to the new line have to be reduced or modified. This burnout began the first night after the fire started. The risk is that if the fire hits the burnout pushed by a strong wind, burning embers could be carried more than a mile, jumping across the burnout and starting spot fires. So having the new black line be adequately wide is important. And having enough firefighters and aircraft to pick up the possible spot fires is crucial.

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(UPDATED at 7 p.m. MDT June 16, 2016)

The firelines that were established Wednesday and Wednesday night around portions of the Cedar Fire southwest of Show Low, Arizona are holding today thanks to the good work on the 600 personnel working on the blaze. The fire is still about half a mile away from the trigger point that would initiate additional evacuations.

Wednesday night firefighters began implementing an indirect strategy on the east side, burning out from roads that are one to two miles away from the main fire. You can see on the map below the heat sources representing that project. They also burned out on the west side to keep the fire from crossing Highway 60. So far these burnouts have been successful.

Map Cedar Fire
Map of the Cedar Fire showing heat detected by a satellite at 1:55 p.m. MDT June 16, 2016. The red dots are the most recent. The line of red dots on the right or east side indicates the initial stages of a burn out operation to remove fuel ahead of the fire. Click to enlarge.
map legend
Legend for the above map.
Show Low fire news conference
Pinetop Fire Department Chief Jim Morgan responds to media questions at the 10 a.m. briefing about the Cedar Fire at the Timber Mesa Fire and Medical Department Headquarters in Show Low, AZ on June 16, 2016. Photo by Tom Story.

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(UPDATED at 11:45 a.m. MDT June 16, 2016)

During a press conference Thursday morning fire officials said the Cedar Fire had burned 5,500 acres. Later in response to a question the Show Low Fire Chief said a recent burnout on the east side brought the total to approximately 8,000 acres. On the map we posted at 8:20 a.m. today the red dots east of the main fire may be the beginning of the burnout at 4:16 a.m.

Tom Story, who attended the press conference, tells us that firefighters conducted burnout operations on the west side of the fire along secondary roads that parallel Highway 60. On the northeast side at the head the fire ran into an old burn and slowed down. Flatter ground and less fuel (vegetation) on the northwest side slowed the fire in that area, Mr. Story said.

The fire is about a mile from a point that would trigger additional evacuations.

Approximately 300 personnel are assigned to the fire.

weather forecast show low az

The weather forecast above (click to enlarge) predicts the wind will be from the southwest at about 15 mph on Thursday and Friday, slowing to around 5 mph at night. Wind gusts will be up to 25 to 30 mph. The relative humidity will bottom out at 10 to 13 percent, with temperatures in the low 80’s. These conditions are not extreme, but should keep the fire moving, challenging firefighters. They may take advantage of the reduced winds and higher humidities at night to attack the flanks and conduct burnouts. The gusty winds and smoke being blown close to the ground may restrict the use of aircraft.

The Type 1 Incident Management Team will have an inbriefing at noon. Sometime after that they will assume command of the fire, typically 6 to 18 hours later.

Map Rodeo-Chediski Fire of 2002
Map of the Rodeo-Chediski Fire of 2002

The footprint of the 2002 Rodeo-Chediski Fire and more recent fuel reduction treatments south of Show Low should moderate the rate of spread and the intensity as the wildfire burns into those areas.

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(UPDATED at 8:20 a.m. MDT, June 16, 2016)

map Cedar Fire
Map of the Cedar Fire showing heat detected by a satellite at 4:16 a.m. MDT June 16, 2016. The highway that Google identifies as 77 is known to locals as highway 60.

This updated map with data from 4:16 a.m. on Thursday shows that the Cedar Fire continued to spread to the northeast overnight and at that time was about 10 miles from Show Low, Arizona and 9 miles from Pinetop-Lakeside.

Our very rough estimate is that it has burned at least 5,500 acres.

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(UPDATED at 9:42 p.m. MDT, June 15, 2016)

At a press conference that concluded a few minutes ago, it was clarified that only one area is under evacuation notice for the Cedar Fire, and that is Forestdale, Arizona. Areas under a pre-evacuation notice, which means to be prepared to evacuate if it becomes necessary, include Show Low, Pinetop, Lakeside, Fort Apache, Hondah, and McNary.

Fire officials estimate it has burned about 3,000 acres.

A Type 3 incident management team will be running the fire tonight and tomorrow, with Incident Commander Johnson. A Type 1 team has been ordered — IC Pierson.

Firefighting resources that were ordered Wednesday afternoon included 2 Very Large Air Tankers (DC-10’s), 4 Large Air Tankers, and 14 hand crews.

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(UPDATED at 9:13 p.m. MDT, June 15, 2016)

Cedar Creek Fire
Cedar Fire from MP 320 on State Route 260, west of Show Low. Photo by Tom Story at about 8:22 p.m. MDT, June 15, 2016.
map Cedar Creek Fire smoke Arizona
Satellite photo showing smoke from the Cedar Fire in Arizona, and the Dog Head and North Fires in New Mexico. At 7 p.m MDT, June 15, 2016.

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(Originally published at 5:25 p.m. MDT, June 15, 2016)

map Cedar Creek Fire
Map showing heat (the red dots) detected by a satellite on the Cedar Fire at 2:09 p.m MDT June 15, about one to two hours after it started. Since then, the fire has spread substantially toward Show Low, AZ

The Cedar fire started around noon on Wednesday and within a few hours had burned over 1,000 acres and forced the closure of Highway 60 (shown as Highway 77 on the map above). A strong wind is pushing it toward Show Low, Arizona.

The map of the fire above shows the location at 2:09 p.m. MDT on Wednesday, not long after it started.

The Arizona Republic reported at 4:20 that it had grown to about 2,500 acres. ABC 15 reports 30 mph wind gusts in the area.

We will update this article as more information becomes available.

Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, he continues to learn, and strives to be a Student of Fire. Google+

7 thoughts on “Cedar Fire near Show Low, Arizona”

  1. I find it a bit amusing No one has mentioned that Show Low burned at least once before, It was a very wicked fire and there was not much us as fire fighters could do to stop it, This get away it could vary well be a replay.

    1. I have been going up since i was a kid… Late 1950’s … I don’t remember Show Low burning… what year was it?

    2. Show Low didn’t burn before. It came right to the outskirts and the firefighters held the line.
      I was living there and evacuated. It was surreal and not unlike a nightmare where you just can’t wake up.
      When the two fires merged… it burned Heber. A neighboring town about 20 or so miles out of Show Low.
      It snowed ash and more into Show Low. I call that area my ‘home’ having lived there for over 15 years. I want to move back… now I’m not sure there will be a place to go home to. :'(

  2. My parents live off of hwy 60 and 260. Please keep my updated on fire and progress
    Thank you, and many thanks to the fire fighters. Stay safe

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