Navajo-Hopi Nations,Flagstaff & Winslow News
Wed, June 23

Fire Report

The Potato Complex Fire started on June 6 and originally consisted of four separate lightning caused fires located 10 miles northwest of Heber-Overgaard. The Potato Fire is burning in Ponderosa Pine, grass understory and Pinyon Juniper.

The fire is now over 85 percent contained and has burnt over 6,262 acres. There are 490 personnel dealing with this fire.

Residents of Chevelon Acres and Chevelon Retreat were allowed to return to their homes on June 16 at 1 p.m. Entry to the area is only allowed from the northern route to avoid interfering with firefighter activities along Forest Roads 504, 153, and 95. Access is allowed by way of Hutch Road (Hutchison Ranch Road) off Route 377, northeast of Heber.

Reduced winds and lower temperatures on June 16 allowed firefighters to aggressively pursue containment of the Potato Complex Fire, which now stands at 85 percent. Today crews will continue extinguishing and removing burning material near containment lines, felling snags, and trenching logs to prevent them from rolling into unburned areas. This mop-up procedure will continue until the entire perimeter of the fire has been treated to a width of two to three chains (one chain equals 66 feet) and no hot spots remain. Rehabilitation of areas impacted by the fire will continue today through a variety of methods to aid the recovery of natural vegetation and landscape to pre-fire conditions wherever possible. Progress on the fire has reached a point where night crews are no longer necessary and some crews and engines are being released to other incidents.

The area bordered by Forest Service roads 504, 170 and 99 remains closed to public entry. Forest Road 504 is closed to through traffic at the junction of FR 99, but residents can still use this route to access their private property. For safety reasons, we ask that people stay out of the area due to low visibility caused by smoke and increased traffic from firefighting personnel.

Woody Mountain Fire in Flagstaff

The Flagstaff Fire Department is re-opened Woody Mountain Road to public access as of 3 p.m. June 16. Fire crews will continue mopping up and monitoring the fire through the weekend. Bob Orrill, Incident Commander with Flagstaff Fire Department on the Woody Fire, reports that crews are also sawing down burned hazardous trees. Crews working on the fire include three, 20-person inmate hand-crews from the Arizona Department of Corrections; Navajo Scouts and San Carlos; engines and water tenders from Flagstaff Fire Department, Sedona Fire Department, Highlands Fire Department, Summit Fire Department and Verde Fire Department.

"Mopping up is similar to making sure a campfire is out. Pour water on hot spots to cool the heat, stir with dirt, and feel to make sure the fire is dead out," Orrill said.

Folks are reminded to use caution when traveling on the road which served as the eastern edge of the Woody Fire.

Beaverhead Fire near Alpine

Thirteen miles south of Alpine, Ariz., high winds blew down a tree into a power line that sparked a fire that has affected over 1,500 acres of ponderosa pine, mixed conifer and mountain meadows. State Highway 191 was closed as a result. The fire is 46 percent contained.

Firefighter and public safety, protection of private property, protection of the Coronado Trail Scenic Byway and protection of the power lines are primary objectives.

There is a threat to private land and structures (about eight residences, 14 outbuildings), and a power line.

There are 225 personnel assigned to this fire tonight. A Type 3 Incident Management Team is operating out of the new Alpine elementary school. Presently on the incident are 10 fire engines and crews; five dozers; three, 20-person Type 2 hand crews; four, 20-person Type 1 crews (Hot Shots), two water tenders, and one helicopter. Traffic control and security is being provided by the sheriff's office from Apache County and Greenlee County and the Arizona Department of Transportation.

Today the fire spotted over portions of the preliminary containment lines but crews were able to line each spot. Line construction continued using Hot Shot crews in the inaccessible portion of the line and using dozers, engines, and hand crews in the flatter terrain. On the east side of Highway 191 the fire is adjacent to an area that was burned two years ago in the Thomas Fire. Meadows on the west side of the highway were burned out to protect the homes located immediately adjacent to the fire. The interior of the fire has islands of unburned fuel, which will continue to burn out for the next several days. Portions of Hannagan Creek and Thomas Creek drainages were burned. Forest Road 574 is also within the burned area.

There is a Temporary Flight Restriction in place over this fire. State Highway 191 is closed south of Alpine at Forest Road 26 to Forest Road 25. Forest Roads 26, 37, 37B, 37C and 567 are closed. Hannagan Meadow Lodge is not threatened.

Kinlichee Fire under control

It's what every community dreads this time of year on the Navajo Nation, especially during times of drought ‹ a wildfire. The Navajo Nation is currently under fire restrictions as nine wildfires burned throughout the Navajo Nation.

Kinlichee Chapter President Christine Wallace said that the fire in Kinlichee, Ariz., is now under control, but not contained. Officials still fear that the strong winds today could spread the fire but so far, there has been no structural damage or injuries.

Wallace said that this fire is especially devastating because the community also dealt with a fire last week that burned 1,600 acres, and nearly all of the Chapter's resources have been expended.

Since the Department of Emergency Management has been dealing with nine wildfires throughout the Navajo Nation this week, the department has left it up to the Chapters to feed the firefighters and other emergency personnel needed to help contain the fires.

With their limited resources, Chapter officials turned to the Office of the Speaker of the Navajo Nation Council to help provide meals for the firefighters. The Speaker's Office worked with Wallace to feed 80 firefighters tonight's dinner at the Sawmill Chapter House.

If the fire continues, Wallace said she is hoping that other local Chapters will kick in to assist. So far, surrounding Chapters, the Apache County Sheriff's Office, the Navajo Nation Police Department and the Speaker's office have come to the aid of Kinlichee.

As of yesterday evening, 48.6 acres had burned. The consecutive fires have put the Chapter officials to work 24 hours a day, Wallace said.

To help ensure that other Navajo Chapters do not have experience the same devastation, Wallace said that the fire restriction ordered by the President needs to be enforced.

"The problem we are running into is enforcement. We need signs to be posted and we need rangers out there making sure that fires are being restricted," Wallace said. She further recommended that wood permits be put on temporary hold.

"The majority of Kinlichee Chapter contains the Navajo Nation Forest area and people need to take precautions here," Wallace said. "It's up to Navajo Nation Forestry Department to enforce those restrictions."

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