Bonito Rock Fire early pic

The Bonito Rock Fire about 17 miles east of Whiteriver is one of five wildfires currently burning on the White Mountain Apache Reservation. It, along with four other wildfires, was detected April 19 and has multiple resources committed in rugged terrain.

UPDATE : May 5, 12 p.m.

The Bonito Rock Fire is nearly out for all intents and purposes barring any event that might cause it to flare up.

As of Saturday, May 1 it was at 1,668 acres and 40% containment and is as of this update a smoldering creeping minimal wildfire that poses no threat to structures.

The cause is still unknown. There are 173 firefighters o under the supervision of Incident Commander Carlton Goseyun.

The most recent update on inciweb.nwcg.gov indicated that fire officials are nonetheless keeping an eye on temperatures that are on the rise lately.

"Weather will become hotter and drier. Interior unburned pockets may begin to show more heat/smoke. Resources will hold and mop up control lines," the website posted May 1.

UPDATE: April 30, 10 a.m.

A decline if winds and some recent rains on the Ft. Apache Reservation have helped firefighters get a better grip on the 1,800 acre Bonito Rock Fire burning about 15 miles southeast of Whiteriver.

An April 30 update from White Mountain Zone Type 3 Management Team Public Information Officer Steve Johnson stated that the fire is 40% contained with some spots being in mop up mode.

“Warmer and drier weather conditions returned to the Bonito Rock fire yesterday (Thursday, April 29), and some interior pockets of unburned fuels were producing smoke but were identified as being well within containment lines. Firefighters will hold and mop up control lines today and will utilize road systems and previous fire scars as control measures and will utilize direct and indirect tactics to gain full suppression of the fire,” Johnson said in his update.

At this time there are five Type 6 Engines, one Type 4 Engine, two Dozers, two Interagency Hotshot Crews, three Initial Attack Crews, one Type 2 Crew, three Water Tenders, one type 1 Helicopter, one type 3 Helicopter and miscellaneous incident management overhead. 

209 firefighters are working the fire, the cause of which is still under investigation.

The junction of Y70/Y40, R55/R32, and R55/Y20 roads remain closed due to fire activity.

Four other smaller fires, The Indian Fire, the Snake Creek Fire, the Sawmill Fire and the Amos Wash Fire were all put out by firefighters the same day they started, April 21.

UPDATE: As of Wednesday, April 28 the fire was at 25% containment. The cause is still under investigation. 

The junction of Y70/Y40, R55/R32, and R55/Y20 roads are closed due to fire activity.

WHITE MOUNTAIN APACHE RESERVATION — As of Sunday the Bonito Rock Fire had grown to 1,800 acres, and its cause is still undetermined.

Five different fires are currently burning on the reservation east and southwest of Whiteriver, in Cibecue, near Sunrise Junction and near Amos Wash.

They are the Bonito Rock Fire, The Indian Fire, the Snake Creek Fire, the Sawmill Fire and the Amos Wash Fire.

On Wednesday, April 21 post on the Ft. Apache BIA Forestry and Wildland Fire Management Facebook page stated that multiple fires on the reservation kept firefighters very busy that day.

“Today (April 21) is a busy day for firefighters. Three additional fires were reported today: The Snake Creek Fire near Sunrise Junction was caused by a down power line and is about 1 acre. The Amos Wash fire is about 10-15 acres and was caused by a faulty catalytic converter from a vehicle. The road from Canyon Day to Cedar Creek is closed. The Sawmill Fire is located near the old Sawmill in Cibecue and is about one half acre,” the Facebook post stated.

The human-caused Indian Fire, located about 10 miles southwest of Whiteriver near Nash Tank, was detected by fire personnel responding to the Bonito Rock Fire located in rugged terrain about 17 miles east of Whiteriver.

The Indian Fire was at about 2 acres as of late night April 21 burning in grasses.

The Bonito Rock Fire (cause unknown) was detected April 19 and as of Wednesday, April 21 was at 149 acres burning in Ponderosa Pine and mixed conifer.

High winds April 21 and more on Thursday, April 22 complicated firefighter efforts to contain some of the fires like the 1,300 acre Bonito Rock Fire.

As of April 23 there were three Type-6 Engines, one Type-4 Engine, two Dozers, two Interagency Hotshot Crews, two Initial Attack Crews, one Type-2 Crew, two Water Tenders, one Type-1 Helicopter, one Type-3 Helicopter and other miscellaneous incident management resources fighting the fire.

A press release from public information officer Steve Johnson said the fire is in an area that contains important lands to the WhiteMountain Apache people and that firefighters are working to protect commercial timberlands, watersheds, riparian areas, rangelands, heritage sites and recreation and wilderness areas.

He said smoke may be visible from Whiteriver and along U.S. 60 and 260 and that people who have respiratory problems and/or heart disease are encouraged to take appropriate measures overhead.

Johnson said the junction of Y70/Y40, R55/R32 and R55/Y20 roads are closed due to fire activity.

“Fire crews have completed handlines along portions of the southwest flanks and will continue to scout for opportunities to construct additional containment lines to secure more of the fire’s edges,” Johnson stated in an April 23 update.

The fire transitioned from a Type-4 organization to a Type-3 complexity fire when the White Mountain Zone Incident Management Team assumed command at 6:00 a.m. April 23.

A Monday, April 26 update on the Bonito Rock Fire on

stated that firefighters planned to continue to monitor fire movement into Bonito Creek, to develop a plan for control lines in Bonito Creek and to hold and patrol previous burn operations.

They also plan to assess and monitor fire movement along the 70F road and to utilize existing roads for indirect attacks on the fire along with direct tactics tying back into the 70 road.

Information on inciweb.nwcg.gov indicated the fire will continue to back towards Bonito creek and progress to the northeast April 26 and that the fire may be more active due to Fire Weather Warning conditions.

The Bonito Rock fire is at 10% containment.

Reach the reporter at

mleiby@wmicentral.com

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