ST. GEORGE — The Mangum Fire, burning near the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, has burned through nearly 30,000 acres – 6,000 of which took place overnight.
The Jacob Lake area has been completely evacuated, and fire officials expect a busy day Tuesday due to a drop in humidity coupled with heat and high winds.
More than 500 firefighters continue to battle the Mangum Fire, which has consumed 29,690 acres in northern Arizona’s Kaibab National Forest. Gerry Perry, the fire information officer for the Mangum Fire, told St. George News that the blaze doubled in size over the weekend and is still only 3% contained according to the most recent data obtained when the area was mapped during flight using airborne thermal infrared imaging.
Perry said fire crews are patrolling the fire containment line, which is keeping the blaze in check at this point, but he added that the fire is “unpredictable, which means we’ll have a pretty active day.”
It was the unpredictability of the fire that prompted the evacuations that took place in the Jacob Lake area over the weekend, he said, when strong winds pushed the blaze toward the area. Once the fire reached a “trigger point” – when easily recognizable conditions are present that indicate the situation is about to become unsafe – Perry said the Coconino County Sheriff’s Office began evacuating the area.
He continued by saying that fire conditions remain high, with a red flag warning and wind advisory in place, coupled with less than 10% humidity and winds expected to reach 40 mph, a combination that can fuel the spread significantly.
Perry said that a gust of wind can carry a burning ember more than half a mile, and it will still be burning after it drops to the ground, igniting a secondary fire that can then spread.
Highway 89A from Marble Canyon to Fredonia and Highway 67 to the Grand Canyon remain closed for public safety, Perry said, adding that the Grand Canyon’s North Rim is “completely inaccessible at this time.” Additionally, the U.S. Forest Service has closed the entire fire area.
Crews will continue their efforts in structure protection, conducting burnout operations and deploying large air tankers for retardant drops. No structures have been lost in the Jacob Lake area to date.
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