SHOW LOW — The Bagnal Fire, which subjected local neighborhoods to significant smoke from time to time since it was started by lightning last Friday, hit most of the edges of the prescribed perimeter by Wednesday.
Reduced fuels and heavy rain on Wednesday night also pushed down the intensity of the fire significantly, and the resulting smoke as well.
The fire was last reported at 2,200 acres.
As the fire died down, some breathed a sigh of relief.
As evidenced by comments on social media, the proximity of the blaze to neighborhoods and subdivisions in Show Low and Linden made some people nervous. The Forest Service also received complaints about smoke from the fire. With recent major wildfires in California, such as the Camp Fire which burned down an entire town and killed dozens of people, and memories of Rodeo-Chedeski, some nearby residents remained edgy.
Although the fire was started by lightning, it seemed unclear from Forest Service communications how the fire was being handled — as a managed fire or a fire that would be fully suppressed as soon as possible due to safety concerns. Forest Service press releases indicated that the fire was not a threat to structures or infrastructure, but again did not elaborate further.
The first press release issued on July 27 noted that the fire would likely grow, even with the rain in the forecast, but mentioned no management objective for the fire. Subsequent press releases did not elaborate any further. The size of the fire appeared to be in question on Monday as well, as the Forest Service press release showed the fire at 50 acres, the same as it was on Saturday, but other sources showed it at about 1,000 acres.
On July 29, the Forest Service released a map showing the area and planned perimeters for the fire for the first time, three days after it started. On July 29 Doreen Ethelbah-Gatewood, public affairs officer for Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests told the Independent the Bagnal Fire was being managed initially as a “modified-suppression” fire, but that the status changed to “full suppression.” After requesting further information, Forest Service officials confirmed the size of the fire was closer to 1,000 acres.
The Independent has requested interviews with Forest Service personnel to learn more about the management of the Bagnal Fire and how the USFWS conducts controlled fires and fights wildfires that are close to communities.