(UPDATED at 12:10 p.m. MDT June 19, 2020)
Thursday’s decreasing winds gave firefighters on the Bighorn Fire somewhat of a break, at least when compared with the difficult conditions on Wednesday that pushed the blaze northeast over Mt. Lemmon. Hand crews and personnel on fire engines were able to make progress, said Operations Section Chief Travis Mayberry.
(To see all articles on Wildfire Today about the Bighorn Fire including the most recent, click here.)
The lower wind speeds Friday could result in smoke being more visible in the communities near the fire. Weather forecasters expect temperatures of around 100 degrees with very low relative humidity.
Thursday night the fire was mapped at 37,058 acres, an increase of 5,850 acres in 24 hours.
Fire managers expect growth to the northeast in Cañada del Oro and Alder Canyons on Friday. Crews working south of Oracle and San Manuel will tie in containment lines today, in preparation for additional firing operations Friday evening. Firefighters on Mt. Lemmon are using an assortment of tools, including controlled burning, to protect the communities along the Catalina Highway.
As the high winds that had been keeping the fire burning on Samaniego Ridge and the top of Ventana Canyon subside, the fire may move downslope at a moderate pace. Firefighters will have to wait to engage some sections of the fire until after it transitions onto less steep terrain.
(Originally published at 1:35 p.m. MDT June 18, 2020)
Since it started June 5 from a lightning strike the Bighorn Fire five miles north of Tucson has been adding less than 4,000 acres every day, until Wednesday when strong winds pushed it past Mt. Lemmon, growing by about 13,000 acres to bring the total up to 31,208 acres.
Firefighting resources assigned to the fire include 15 hand crews, 60 engines, 8 helicopters, 12 water tenders, and 6 dozers.
From the Incident Management Team Thursday morning:
“Today, fire managers anticipate the fire will move towards Charouleau Gap, depending on wind direction and temperatures. Fire crews and air support are in place preparing and widening fire lines for this expected spread of the fire. On Mt. Lemmon, the fire moved through Oracle Ridge and generated spot fires in Stratton Canyon. Expect highly visible smoke as those areas burn together today. Crews working overnight implemented controlled burns along the Catalina Highway corridor. Firing operations will continue today, if necessary, to protect values at risk.
“Air operations including fixed-wing airtankers were up early this morning, dropping water and fire retardant to slow the fire’s spread. Winds will continue to be a factor today, but less so than yesterday. The fire burning in the Ventana Canyon area and along Samaniego Ridge will be monitored by air support today. Minimal downslope backing of the fire is anticipated in that area. Crews will tie together the two containment lines north of the fire perimeter to protect the communities of Oracle and San Manuel.”