June 20 — The Navajo Mountain #1 Fire reached 65% containment as the fire slowly backed into more natural barriers on the unpopulated western side of the fire. As the fire moves into a phase that will consist of monitoring and maintenance, a transition from the Southwest Incident Management Team to the Bureau of Indian Affairs will take place this afternoon.
“We feel good about where this fire is headed because the same rocky terrain that makes it impossible for firefighters to work in also makes it difficult for the fire to gain acreage, especially when it has to back downhill against the wind,” said Operations Section Chief Trainee Pete Gordon.
Several interior islands have burned in the last few days but the fire has not appreciably increased in acreage.
“On the southern side, where you can see the community in the distance, we’ve taken care of the hot spots near the line and in most of the area, a few hundred feet inside the line is cold,” added Gordon. Light smoke can be expected from the Navajo Mountain #1 Fire, but it is expected to be of short duration. The drift smoke in the area is from the Warm Fire on the Kaibab Plateau.
On Wednesday, Dennis Teller, a Type III Incident Commander with the Bureau of Indian Affairs will lead three crews of Navajo Scouts and have two helicopters to continue the work on Navajo Mountain. The focus for Teller and his crews will be the continued monitoring of the west flank and any hot spots that might pop up near the lines.
“There’s still some work to do on the west flank and the helicopters will use bucket drops to make sure the fire continues a slow, creeping movement downhill towards the rocks,” noted Gordon.
One section of the western flank has about one mile of scattered fuels to back through before the vegetation ends in the rocky area.
“We estimate it will take a few weeks for all the fire to hit rocks and by that time we hope to be in the monsoon season with some good rain to finish things off,” said Gordon.
The communities of Rainbow City and Navajo Mountain, the Navajo Mountain Chapter, and the Navajo Nation have continuously supported the firefighting effort.
“It has been a great honor to work in this beautiful country and help the people who live here. We’ve made many friends and we hope we’ve done our part to get everyone’s lives back to normal,” said Incident Commander Dan Oltrogge.
A burn ban is in place for the Navajo Nation. This includes no open flame, no burning of trash or vegetation, and smoking in buildings or vehicles only. Propane stoves are allowed.
Acreage: 3,350 Contained: 65% Personnel: 100, including three Navajo Scout crews and two helicopters.
Cooperating and Assisting Agencies: BIA, USFS, NPS, BLM, ST, FWS, PRI, Navajo Mountain Chapter House, Navajo Tribe Utility, Navajo Police Department, Navajo Nation Rangers, San Juan County School District, Indian Health Services, Navajo Department Of Emergency Management.
For fire maps, visit http://www.fireteam-sw.com/oltrogge/current.htm