LAKESIDE — Prescribed burns conducted last week and over the weekend are causing confusion and, in some cases, concern among White Mountain residents.
The planned burns can prevent catastrophic wild fires later in the season.
Wildland fire warnings, gusty winds, smoke from prescribed burns and limited moisture at the front door of fire season could have some residents and visitors on edge.
Here’s a summary of prescribed burns and wildland fires in the area:
A prescribed burn began Sunday, Apr. 11 in the Lakeside Ranger District of the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests near Vernon. Burning operations are expected to continue thru April 18, weather permitting.
There are 3,418 acres that will be “treated” in the prescribed burn. 2,000 of those were treated on Sunday.
The affected land is within the Lakeside East Broadcast burn area, south of Vernon.
Areas inside burn unit include: Los Burros Unit — 1,744 acres; Pierce Mountain Unit — 912 acres and Reservation Tank Unit — 671 acres.
These units are located about eight miles south of Vernon, along Apache County Road 3140. The burn units are surrounded by Forest Service Roads 96, FSR 9G, FSR 9835 and Apache County Road 3140.
Approximately “2,000 acres were successfully treated” Sunday afternoon stated a US Forest Service, Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests (ASNF) Facebook post.
Crews will monitor and hold lines Monday, Apr. 12, and begin ignitions on the southern block, weather permitting.
“Big shout out to neighboring Forests U.S. Forest Service-Tonto National Forest and US Forest Service — Cibola National Forest & National Grasslands for providing resources to make this burn a success,” stated the USFS, ASNF officials via a Facebook post on Sunday. “ASNF We would also like to thank Vernon Fire District for making a presence in the community and fielding phone calls.”
The G22 near Cibecue
The G22 Fire that ignited 10 miles northwest of Cibecue last week was reported at just over 1,700 acres on Sunday.
The fire is now being managed by the White Mountain Zone Incident Management Team, with Ben Plumb as the Incident Commander.
The fire is burning within the Rodeo-Chediski fire scar, in rugged terrain with a large volume of snags/dead trees. It is located 10 miles northwest of Cibecue, Arizona.
Firefighters are still actively working in the area monitoring the perimeter for interior hot spots.
Last Wednesday, a Pinetop Fire Department Medical Team was assigned to assist with the G22 fire.
The cause is under investigation.
For questions, call Candy Lupe, Public Information Officer at (928) 205-5662 or log onto BIA Fort Apache Agency’s Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/BIAFAAFireMgt.
The human-caused Margo Fire ignited last week near Dudleyville (south of the San Carlos Apache Reservation) and caused evacuation of 200 residents.
As of Sunday, Apr. 11, the fire has burned over 1,100 acres and was reported at 61% containment.
Mop up operations were in progress and all utilities were restored to Dudleyville and the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office also lifted the GO status. Residents were in “SET” mode as of Sunday night.
The residents returning home are still urged to not enter burn areas. In addition, the fire still contained multiple interior heat pockets that may produce columns of smoke at times, according to officials.
The 3,900-acre Salt Fire was burning Apr. 8 -11 in Bylas on the San Carlos Apache Reservation.
The threatened homes and structures on the west riverbank. There were no reported injuries and the cause is under in vestigation.
The San Carlos Apache Forest Rescue Resources Program was the primary agency fighting the fire, but Fort Thomas, Bureau of Land Management and Pima fire resources were also on the scene.
A Timber Mesa Fire and Medical District crew was also sent to Bylas to help with the effort.
High winds and drought conditions in Arizona continues to be an early warning sign of what is predicted to be an early-starting fire season.
Dry winds blowing over the weekend were expected to strengthen on Monday, making conditions worse and creating potential movement of existing fires to the north and east, according to officials.
With the approach of a low pressure system. Critical fire weather conditions are also a possibility Tuesday and Wednesday.