TUSAYAN, Ariz. — The Tusayan Ranger District of the Kaibab National Forest is managing the Jar Complex fires in order to improve forest health and meet other natural resource objectives.
The Jar Complex is made up of three separate fires, the largest being the 50-acre Mason Fire located just southwest of Camp 36 Tank, about 4 miles south of Grandview Lookout Tower. The Mason Fire area didn’t receive as much precipitation Wednesday as some other areas in the district, which allowed it to continue its expansion and become well established in surrounding Ponderosa pine forest.
Fire managers have defined a 16,100 acre planning area within which the the Mason Fire will be able to grow while achieving resource-related objectives such as allowing fire to play its natural role in a fire-adapted ecosystem and improving overall forest health conditions.
The Mason Fire is expected to increase in size rapidly over the next several days if the area doesn’t receive significant rain. Smoke from the Mason Fire will largely be pushed toward the northeast due to prevailing winds, which means it will likely be very visible from Desert New in Grand Canyon National Park and from Cameron, Arizona. While direct smoke impacts to the Town of Tusayan are unlikely, a column will be visible from the community and from Highway 64 as the Mason Fire expands.
The smoke column may also be visible to those traveling from Flagstaff on Highway 180 toward Valle. Smoke is expected to be pushed toward the northeast due to prevailing winds, so it could also be visible from Cameron and Tuba City.
The other two fires of the Jar Complex are the Lost and Shale fires. Each is under an acre in size but may pick up in activity if drier conditions prevail over the next few days. They received more precipitation than the Mason Fire Wednesday and grew only slightly due to the different conditions.
The Lost Fire is located about 6 miles south of Tusayan, a quarter mile east of Highway 64 and 5 miles north of Red Butte. The Shale Fire is about a mile southeast of the Lost Fire just west of the junction of forest roads 2703 and 2703A.
The planning area within which the Jar Complex fires will be managed is about 19,700 acres in size. Much of the area is Ponderosa pine forest that has seen various forms of treatment over the last several years from other managed fires, prescribed burns and various kinds of mechanical treatments.
Goals of managing the Jar Complex for resource benefit include reducing fuel accumulations, improving wildlife habitat, restoring fire to a fire-adapted ecosystem and enhancing overall forest health.
“These fires are excellent candidates for managing to achieve resource objectives due to their locations and the fire effects we are seeing so far,” Josh Miller, fuels assistant fire management officer for the Tusayan Ranger District, said. “Despite a little bit of rain, the Mason Fire remains active on all sides, and we expect it to grow tens to hundreds of acres over the next few days.”
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