Monsoonal rains stall fires in Greater Grand Canyon area

Low-severity surface fire moves through mixed conifer forest, Quaking Fire, North Kaibab Ranger District, Arizona, July 30, 2014 | Photo courtesy of Dave Gesser - US Forest Service, St. George News

WILLIAMS, Arizona – Widespread rain has temporarily stalled the growth of the four lightning-caused fires that are being managed to improve forest health on the Kaibab National Forest and on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon National Park. Fire managers expect that the four fires, which have been burning since earlier this month, will continue growing and benefiting the ecosystem as drier conditions return to northern Arizona over the next few days.

“We are extremely pleased with the progress of these fires and the resource objectives that have been accomplished to date,” said Art Gonzales, fire staff officer for the Kaibab National Forest, on Wednesday. “When monsoons arrive in northern Arizona, it is the ideal time for us to manage fires. Fire plays an absolutely essential role in keeping the forest healthy and in reducing the likelihood of high-severity fires that could threaten our neighboring communities.”

Current fires burning in the Kaibab National Forest/Grand Canyon National Park

Williams Ranger District: The Sitgreaves Complex, which is located about 5 miles northwest of Parks, Arizona, is 4,040 acres in size. Today, fire crews will strengthen existing road perimeters to prepare for managed ignitions that are planned for later this week. Drier conditions and increased fire activity are expected over the next few days, and smoke will become more visible. The fire is on Facebook at Sitgreaves Fire Complex Information.

Tusayan Ranger District: The McRae Fire, which remains at 3,486 in size, is located about 5 miles southeast of Tusayan, Arizona. Fire managers plan to conduct managed ignitions today starting near the intersection of State Highway 64 and Forest Road 688. Predicted winds will carry smoke away from Tusayan, but it will be visible from the highway and town.

North Kaibab Ranger District: The Quaking Fire, which is located about 40 miles southeast of Fredonia, Arizona, has grown to 332 acres. The fire received rain early this week, and there has been minimal smoke production. Today, fire crews will patrol the fire, strengthen holding lines for future managed ignitions, and conduct other preparation work in anticipation of drier conditions allowing the fire to continue growth within the 1,159-acre planning area that has been established.

North Rim Grand Canyon: The Kanabownits Fire remains at 303 acres in size and is located about a mile northeast of the historic Kanabownits Cabin on the Walla Valley Peninsula. Crews are monitoring the fire and doing preparation work for future operations. Smoke production has been minimal but is likely to increase as conditions dry out.

For more information, visit inciweb.nwcg.gov or follow @KaibabNF and @GrandCanyonNPS on Twitter.

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