TUCSON, Ariz. – The Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) Gila District announced September 27, 2019 that the Aravaipa Veterans Fire Crew has achieved certification as an Interagency Hotshot Crew (IHC). Of the 13 BLM IHCs nationwide, the Aravaipa Veterans Interagency Hotshot Crew is the only BLM-funded hotshot crew in Arizona, and only one of two BLM IHCs in the nation focused on recruiting and developing veterans.
“We’re proud of the Aravaipa Crew’s accomplishments and the continued efforts to develop a workforce of Veterans,” said Gila District Manager Scott Feldhausen. “This hard working and highly skilled crew is now a part of the elite fire resources available to fight fires not only in Arizona, but nationally and abroad.”
Interagency Hotshot Crews are the most highly trained and experienced type of hand crews and they must meet and maintain stringent requirements to achieve the IHC status. Their primary mission is to provide a safe, professional, mobile response to all phases of fire management and incident operations. IHCs are staffed, conditioned, equipped and qualified to meet a variety of strategic and tactical wildland fire assignments, and they are typically relied upon for the most challenging fire assignments. When not committed to fire assignments, IHCs provide a workforce to accomplish a variety of resource management objectives while maintaining availability for incident mobilization.
The Aravaipa Veterans IHC will provide an opportunity for veterans to work in a team environment and build skills and experience. Team members will also learn about opportunities to work for and become competitive for employment with the Federal Government in other natural resource arenas.
Forecasts predict that smoke from the Whiskey Fire 10 miles southwest of the Flagstaff Airport will move into the city Friday afternoon. (see maps)
Thursday and Thursday night the wind from the east and northeast moved smoke from the fire off to the southwest but that direction is predicted to change shortly after noon Friday to come from the south and southwest, pushing the smoke into the Flagstaff area. If the fire activity continues on Saturday the smoke is expected to continue to impact the city.
The Whiskey Fire started September 2 on the Coconino National Forest and is being managed rather than completely suppressed. Thursday firefighters began conducting firing operations along Forest Road 231 to ensure the wildfire stays in its containment area. Today, Friday, the plan is to moderate but continue the firing operations through the weekend, according to information released by the Forest Service.
The agency said smoke may affect Flagstaff, Munds Park, Mountainaire, Kachina Village, Forest Highlands, Doney Park, Mormon Lake Village, Highway 89A Corridor, Sedona, Village of Oak Creek, and portions of Interstate 40.
Sheridan, Boulin, and Saber fires, all within 70 miles of Flagstaff
Three wildfires in Central Arizona have burned a total of more than 14,000 acres. All of the fires are being managed, rather than suppressed, in order to enhance the natural resources.
The Sheridan Fire 26 miles northwest of Prescott is by far the most active of the three, more than tripling in size over the last two days. (See map below) The fire behavior is described as extreme, with running, wind-driven runs, and short-range spotting. A mapping flight early Thursday morning found that the lightning-caused fire had burned 8,594 acres. About 75 percent of the fire is being monitored while 25 percent is under a point protection strategy, suppressing or retarding the spread in order to protect specific sites.
The Saber fire, also started by lightning, has burned 2,093 acres 16 miles southwest of Flagstaff. Very little current information is available about this incident.
The Ikes and Castle Fires have burned a total of almost 23,000 acres
Two wildland fires on lands managed by federal agencies north of the Grand Canyon have burned a total of almost 23,000 acres. Both fires, burning at about 8,000 feet above sea level, are being allowed to spread within predetermined boundaries in order to benefit the natural resources. (see map below)
The largest blaze, the Castle Fire on the Kaibab National Forest, has burned through 96 percent of the 19,368-acre planning area, consuming a significant amount of dead and down trees and some mixed conifer species. As expected with strong gusty winds on Friday, it became more active moving into pockets of unburned piñon-juniper and mixed conifer. The fire slowed once reaching confinement lines. A total of 32 personnel are assigned, which includes 4 fire engine crews. The estimated cost to date is $4.6 million.
The 3,500-acre Ikes Fire is burning in Grand Canyon National Park and the Kaibab National Forest. It has spread across 42 percent of the 7,785-acre planning area, with low to moderate fire behavior being observed. Firefighting resources assigned include 1 hand crew, 7 fire engines, and 1 helicopter for a total of 88 personnel. On Friday gusty winds prevented firefighters from carrying out firing operations. Crews patrolled the perimeter on the northeast and eastern portions of the fire while other personnel continued to prep the west side of Forest Service Road 223. Observed fire behavior was active, with backing fire along ridge tops and single tree torching. The estimated cost to date is $1 million.
The predicted weather for the weekend is warm, very dry conditions with temperatures about 5 degrees above average. Gusty west to southwest breezes are predicted for Saturday afternoon with light drainage winds overnight.
It has come to within a mile of the north edge of the city
(UPDATE at 6:24 a.m. MDT July 23, 2019)
Fire officials say the Museum Fire north of Flagstaff, Arizona has burned 1,800 acres. (UPDATE at 11:33 a.m. MDT July 23, 2019: the size estimate by the Incident Management Team was reduced to 1,000 acres Tuesday morning.) Part of that increase may be from back-burning out ahead of the fire in the area of Mount Elden Lookout Road.
Monday afternoon the Coconino County Sheriff issued an evacuation order effective at 6 p.m. until further notice for all persons living, working and accessing a home from Mount Elden Lookout Road. All residents east of Weatherford Road with access on Mount Elden Lookout Road were included. The evacuation is to support burnout operations and to prevent the fire from coming into these neighborhoods.
At about 4 p.m. the weather station near the Flagstaff airport south of town recorded 0.03 inch of rain. Monday night the relative humidity reached 70 percent, a level that would retard the spread of a wildfire. The weather forecast for the fire area calls for a 70 percent chance of rain and thunderstorms in the afternoons on Tuesday and Wednesday, with an estimated total of approximately half an inch. Rain could continue off and on through the rest of this week.
Moisture has increased overnight and we are expecting an active day of thunderstorms. Hail, gusty winds, and localized heavy rain/flooding are all possible with the stronger storms. #azwx pic.twitter.com/uKaWrsHKty
The Coconino National Forest is saying the Museum Fire north of Flagstaff has burned 1,000 acres, which is consistent with the data from a satellite overflight of the fire at 3:18 a.m. MDT July 22, 2019.
(UPDATED at 7:46 a.m. MDT July 22, 2019)
Firefighters continue to battle the Museum Fire just north of Flagstaff, Arizona.
Coconino County has issued a pre-evacuation notice for several neighborhoods, including Mt. Elden Lookout Estates, north and west of Highway 89 and Silver Saddle, Hutcheson Acres, McCann Estates, and all of the Timberline communities (Black Bill Park, Wupatki Trails and Pine Mountain Estates.) Residents in these areas are advised to be ready to evacuate if it becomes necessary.
Data from an overnight fixed wing mapping flight indicates that the fire has burned 415 acres. Satellite imagery collected about half an hour later appears to show that the fire is significantly larger, but the fixed wing flight should be much more accurate.
We will update this article as more information becomes available.
(Originally published at 7:05 p.m. MDT July 21, 2019)
A fire named “Museum” is causing evacuations on the north side of Flagstaff, Arizona. It was reported at 10:53 a.m. Sunday and had burned approximately 400 acres by 6:22 Sunday afternoon, coming to within a mile of the outskirts of the city (see the map below).
Due to the complexity, a Type 1 Incident Management Team has been ordered and should arrive on Monday.
Evacuation information is being handled by Coconino County Emergency Management and conducted by the Sheriff’s Office. The Emergency Management Call Center can be reached at (928) 213-2990.
Firefighting resources assigned to fire Sunday afternoon included:
7 Fire Engines
2 Hot Shot crews
4 other Hand Crews
2 Water Tenders
4 Large Air Tankers
4 Single Engine Air Tankers
1 Very Large Air Tanker (DC-10)
3 Type 1 Helicopters
A weather station at the Flagstaff Airport Sunday afternoon recorded a temperature of 87 degrees, 14 percent humidity, and 6 to 9 mph winds out of the west and southwest gusting to 20. For Monday the forecast is for 83 degrees, 18 percent RH, and variable winds of 6 to 9 mph.
The #MuseumFire, north of Flagstaff, has burned 400 acres and continues to grow.
Are you near the fire? Message us with sights/updates, and please stay safe.
#museumfire update: An evacuation notice has been issued for recreational areas of Forest Rd. 420 to Hwy 89 (Mount Elden Lookout) and Schultz Pass Rd. to private land. A pre-evacuation notice has also been issued for the area of Forest Rd. 420 to Friedlein Prairie. pic.twitter.com/4pHSAjVxhJ