FREDONIA, Ariz. — North zone fire managers continue planning for prescribed pile burning this winter, targeting areas across the district as conditions allow, and initially focusing on higher elevation areas and within the vicinity of Jacob Lake.
Burn piles are typically composed of vegetative materials, commonly called slash, such as tops, limbs, branches, brush and other recently cut materials resulting from forest management activities such as thinning, pruning, timber harvesting and wildfire hazard mitigation.
Upon arranging slash into compact, teepee-shapes and allowing the piles to dry, fire managers burn the piles during safe burning conditions, generally after a snowfall or significant wetting-rain events.
“With recent significant moisture continuing to blanket the Kaibab Plateau, fuel moistures continue to rise making it too wet for broadcast burning,” said Dominic Ali, north zone prescribed fire and fuels technician. “So we have switched gears and begun targeting the brush and slash piles resulting from fuels reduction and mechanical thinning projects over the last few years. By reducing these hazardous fuels, we can help reduce the threat of future high severity, high-intensity wildfires.”
Fire managers have recently accomplished approximately 130 acres of pile burning within the vicinity of DeMotte Park and plan to target an additional 2,000 acres as conditions allow.
During ignitions, motorists are cautioned that smoke may be present on roadways in short durations, but is generally expected to have minimal impact. Pile burn operations require moisture in the surrounding vegetation and as such typically produce lighter smoke than a prescribed broadcast burn.
Areas anticipated to be impacted by smoke include Arizona state Route 67, forest road 22, forest road 611, Kaibab Lodge and the North Rim Country Store. Motorists are reminded to use caution, drive slowly, turn on headlights and avoid stopping in areas where fire personnel are working.
All prescribed burning is subject to approval by the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality and appropriate weather conditions. To view prescribed burn authorizations, visit azdeq.gov/environ/air/smoke/index.html.