The Hart Fire is being allowed to burn northeast of Payson, Arizona

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map hart fire arizona payson
Map showing heat detected on the Hart Fire at 3:36 a.m. MDT July 21, 2019. The fire is 18 miles northeast of Payson, Arizona.

(Originally published at 10:53 a.m. MDT July 21, 2019)

The Hart Fire 18 miles northeast of Payson, Arizona was very active Saturday and Saturday night, spreading south for about a mile. The Coconino National Forest has not updated the information about the fire on InciWeb since July 19, but part of the growth could be due to firing out along Forest Roads 96 and 321.

The fire is not being fully suppressed, according to the strategy described by the Coconino National Forest on July 19:

After careful review and discussion by fire managers, both Hart and Duke Fires  will be allowed to burn in their predetermined fire perimeter to obtain resource objectives. Low intensity wildfires are used to help protect ponderosa pine forests from more severe damage by cleaning the forest floor of existing dried pine needles, dead shrubs and grasses. Too much accumulation of dried and dead fuels could allow fires to reach the canopy of the trees and possible crown fires. Fire also helps fertilize the soils to ensure a healthier forest.

The term “their predetermined fire perimeter” is not defined and as far as we can tell no maps of that area have been posted.

The Duke Fire is 10 miles north of the Hart Fire, north of highway 65/87/282, and has not been very active recently.

The Hart Fire is burning at 7,000 feet. The last update by the Forest Service on July 19 said it had burned 1,100 acres. Our very unofficial estimate based on satellite data shows that it has most likely burned two to three times that amount.

The weather forecast for the Hart Fire for the next few days predicts temperatures in the 80s, humidity less than 20 percent, and a chance of thunderstorms each day beginning Monday.

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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+

12 thoughts on “The Hart Fire is being allowed to burn northeast of Payson, Arizona”

  1. Uh oh. Using unplanned fire in the right place at the right time is expensive.

  2. I applaud the USFS and the Kaibab, Coconino, Tonto and Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests for their continuing efforts to restore the Mogollon Plateau to a pre-suppression fire resilient environment. The predominant Ponderosa Pine forest is the largest contiguous swath of ponderosas in the world, mangled somewhat by the very large fires of the last 17 years . USFS and the National Forests surely walk a fine edge in permitting naturally occurring fire to burn with less than full-suppression tactics. I cannot imagine all the flak and protestations of NIMBY’s, air quality concerns and generally speaking an ecologically ignorant public, they must navigate and endure.

    Kudos to these national forests and the USFS!

    The 2002 Rodeo-Chediski fire fully opened their eyes to the fact that our ponderosa forests (and most of our western forests) are extremely poorly managed resulting in catastrophic wildfires such as the Rodeo-Chediski fire and later, the Wallow fire in particular. Over the last decade prescription buring has been an on-going process leading ultimately to a robust ponderosa forest once again. And now, “let burn protocols” are greatly expanding the limited areal coverage of Rx burns.

  3. I know the audience for this site is mainly the USFS, firefighters, etc., but applauding tactics that are causing what will be life-long lung illnesses for children and premature deaths for many others makes me sad, and not just a little sick.

  4. RJ:
    Pretty clear you do not understand the role of fire in ecosystems. I live in Payson and the smoke from the fire is not impacting anyone except the firefighters managing the fire. The fire is away from any developments. I suggest a person has a better chance of developing lung illness by living in a big city like Phoenix, New York or LA, than from a managed wildfire.

    1. FFTR: I’m not surprised that you are not perceiving any smoke impacts from the Hart fire if you live in Payson. The forest service’s managed wildfires and prescribed burns are carefully planned to blow “away” from the source of the fire and any nearby developments/communities. But smoke does not simply blow “away”, it blows somewhere else, onto other downwind communities which are not monitored for particulate pollution, not necessarily nearby and not considered important, evidently. I live in Snowflake, where we have been inundated, day and night, with heavy levels of smoke from the Hart fire for several days now. This is at a time when we are having temperatures around 100 degrees. Most of us do not have A/C so the advice to stay inside with doors and windows closed to avoid the smoke is not workable in the real world. We have been coughing, choking and wheezing from the smoke from the Hart fire for days. Those of us who do not already have lung disease are certainly at risk for developing it. At the moment, the air in Phoenix is probably better than what we have here and this is not an isolated incident, but typical fallout from forest service burns conducted NW, SW and west of our area.

      1. I say, “Accept it or leave.” I honestly want to say, “Stop your f-ing whining and let the USFS get on with its long-term goal of reestablishing a HEALTHIER and more FIRE-RESILIENT forest.

        Wildfire smoke is more a part of the West than its ever-expanding population of people that choose to leave the masses behind and, “Go west young man!” Summertime in the West would not be summer without wildfire and the fragrance and acridity of its smoke.

        I wonder if the Native Americans that lived here long before us white folk complained about the smoke. Probably not because they could never have screwed up the forests to the point that when a monsoon fire ignites it takes off and burns and burns and burns, as we civilized and selfish people have succeeded in doing over the last 100 years. It’s time to pay the piper. Ideally, a few generations from now won’t have to “endure this terrible, horrendous wildfire smoke and its deadly particulates” because the USFS has accomplished what it has set out to do.

        1. There is no need to be rude in the responses on this site. I have been in fire on the Coc for 38 years, am a current SOF2 and DIVS, and know the fire and fuels history of the area well. The different viewpoints and how it impacts communities and creates a more resilient landscape are valid. Let’s come up with solutions in this ever changing world, and not chastise each other, to solve the problem. Mother Natures solution isn’t always pretty. Something to think about.

      2. I spent 30 years in wildland fire management and a degree in forest management. The forests in AZ are overstocked. Fire is needed in fire dependent ecosystems. Sorry you are being impacted by smoke. Payson sometimes gets smoked in from fires on the Rim. Unless you are a medical doctor with research to back it up the amount of smoke you have been exposed too is doubtful it will lead to long term health hazards.

        1. I don’t want to get into an argument on the symantics of reintroducing fire back into an ecosystem that evolved by adapting to a frequent fire interval but the ponderosa pine ecosystem on the colorado plateau is not adapted to fire anymore due to the heavy fuel loading we have created with fire suppression and minimal fuels reduction/harvesting activities in the last 20+ years. I agree we need to work on a smaller scale and incrementally to reduce fuel loads then apply or manage fire. We are venturing down a path where we are reintroducing fire and do not know the long term consequences fully. Health wise, populations are increasing, more people live in remote areas and you can not discount peoples health issues or tell them to move or suffer the consequences. This is a dilemma with many variables and no one size fits all answer. We created this problem and we have to work together to figure it out.

  5. How about managing these fires on a smaller scale. Don’t turn a 5 acre fire into a 10000 acre fire that lasts for weeks. Compromise and manage it to 1000 acres that lasts a few days. Then give people a break from the smoke.

  6. Why does does the USFS refuse to talk about changing our outdated log export laws that would provide a viable market for the small diameter trees that are choking our forests and creating such an enormous fuel load? 4FRI has been a miserable failure, waiting for a fairy god mother to produce an industry funded way to thin the forests. That was the USFS’s job to approach the Secretary of Agriculture and ask him to plead this case to congress. US Senator McSally AZ has proposed in Farm Bill 1849 Section 5 such a change. Eight years of wasted time. If we wait long enough, there won’t be any forests to “save”.

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