Saturday afternoon update: Type 2 team takes over Kendrick Mountain fire, grows to 3,800 acres
A Type 2 incident management team with more robust resources, has taken over the Boundary Fire burning on the northeast side of Kendrick Mountain.
The lightning caused fire has grown to 3,800 acres, up from 1,550 acres on Friday and approximately 200 personnel are now assigned to the blaze.
Yesterday, crews successfully held containment lines while the fire slowly progressed to the west while consuming forest litter and heavy dead and down fuel, which is beneficial for the forest’s health.
Air quality monitors have been placed in the City of Flagstaff and more monitors will be placed in areas such as Cameron where there are possible anticipated smoke impacts.
Coconino County Supervisor Lena Fowler also will host a public meeting Monday at 4 p.m. Mountain Standard Time (5 p.m. Daylight Savings Time) at the Tuba City Chapter House.
A meteorologist from the team will explain wind patterns, expected fire and smoke behavior and the forecast over the next few weeks. Supervisor Fowler will be there to answer questions and interpret from English to Navajo.
Members of the public who may be affected by smoke conditions are encouraged to attend.
Area, highway and trail closures are still in effect.
9:30 a.m. The Flagstaff region is in for another Red Flag day Saturday, with strong winds, low humidity and warm weather creating critical fire weather conditions.
The warning will be in effect from noon to 7 p.m.
Officials with the Kaibab National Forest put out a release Saturday morning advising people to refrain from having a campfire when Red Flag conditions exist.
By Sunday, winds will blow even harder, although high temperatures will drop about 5 degrees. The National Weather Service is issuing a wind advisory for that day, which reflects a forecast for higher relative humidities, though fire danger will remain high, said Robert Rickey, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Bellemont.
A cooling trend starting Monday could produce near freezing temperatures in the mountains Tuesday morning.
Northeast of Flagstaff, the Boundary Fire at Kendrick Mountain did not advance farther to the northeast Friday, although blowing smoke will continue to force the closure of Highway 180 again Saturday. Firefighters will work to strengthen containment lines while winds continue to blow strong through Monday.
Following is the detailed National Weather Service forecast for the coming week:
Sunny, with a high near 77. Breezy, with a south southwest wind 11 to 16 mph increasing to 21 to 26 mph in the morning. Winds could gust as high as 39 mph.
Mostly clear, with a low around 47. Breezy, with a southwest wind 20 to 25 mph decreasing to 14 to 19 mph after midnight. Winds could gust as high as 37 mph.
Sunny, with a high near 73. Breezy, with a south southwest wind 14 to 19 mph increasing to 21 to 26 mph in the afternoon. Winds could gust as high as 44 mph.
Clear, with a low around 49. Breezy, with a south southwest wind 23 to 26 mph, with gusts as high as 43 mph.
Sunny, with a high near 67. Breezy.
Clear, with a low around 32.
Sunny, with a high near 74.
Friday update: Kendrick Mountain fire triples in size, Highway 180 to remain closed
The Boundary Fire burning on the northeast side of Kendrick Mountain has tripled in size between Thursday and Friday, driven by strong winds that are expected to continue throughout the weekend.
Fire managers have decided to keep Highway 180 closed through at least Friday night due to fire activity and smoke near the highway, Fire Information Officer Bob Blasi said Friday morning. Managers will reevaluate the closure Saturday morning, Blasi said.
“We fully expect the fire to continue to be very active like it was yesterday right alongside 180,” he said.
The lightning caused fire has grown to 1,550 acres — up from the 500 acres reported Thursday morning. Since it jumped its northern initial containment line Thursday afternoon, crews have been able to halt the fire’s progress to the north and will continue to strengthen containment lines today. A Red Flag Warning goes into effect today, indicating potential for increased fire behavior.
Given the increased complexity of the fire, a Type II incident management team has been ordered to help manage the wildfire and will arrive Friday afternoon.
A closure order is now in effect for the fire area. The closure boundary begins at the junction of Forest Road (FR) 171 and FR 193 on the Coconino NF. The boundary extends west onto the Kaibab NF on FR 171 to FR 144. On FR 144 the closure area travels north to FR 736. The closure proceeds east along FR 736 to FR 91. The boundary follows FR 91 to the forest boundary. From the forest boundary on FR 91, the closure extends northeast on the Coconino NF along FR 9023C to FR 9005 and along FR 9005 to State Highway 180. The closure extends south along State Highway 180 to the junction of FR 193 and then proceeds west along FR 193 to the junction of FR 171. All roads and trails within the perimeter will be closed to the public. With the exception of FR 91 on the Kaibab NF and FRs 9005 and 9023C on the Coconino NF, which will be barricaded and signed as closed, travel will be allowed on the other perimeter roads.
Trails that will be closed include: Pumpkin Trail, Kendrick Mountain Trail, Bull Basin Trail, and the 4th Connector Trail.
Smoke will be visible from Flagstaff, Highway 180, Baderville, Parks, Williams, Interstate 40, and the Grand Canyon. Smoke is predicted to impact the communities of Cameron and Tuba City during the day, and Spring Valley, Pumpkin Center, Parks and Baderville during the evening hours.
Crews working on the fire have prepped the historic cabin and fire lookout tower on top of Kendrick Peak in advance of future fire activity. Structure protection efforts around private property, historic structures, archeological sites and other values at risk are ongoing in preparation for anticipated winds over the next few days.
10:45 p.m. Thursday: The wildfire burning on the northeast flank of Kendrick Mountain jumped its initial containment line Thursday, forcing fire managers to close U.S. Highway 180 by late afternoon due to dense smoke blowing to the northeast.
The stretch of highway that will be closed is between a point one quarter mile south of Kendrick Park to Forest Road 417, or Cedar Ranch Road, to the north.
The fire is about 2 miles west Highway 180, said Dick Fleishman, the public information officer on the fire. The highway will be closed overnight and officials will reevaluate the situation Friday morning, he said.
The lightning caused wildfire is still currently within a 15,000-acre planning area established by the Forest Service and no structures are threatened, Fleishman said. A Type III team with 110 personnel is assigned to the fire.
Firefighters are now working to contain the northeast flank of the blaze that hopped Forest Road 760 to prevent it from crossing the highway, Fleishman said. As of 5 p.m. Thursday that goal looked to be within reach as the fire had entered an area that was treated with prescribed fire last fall, causing the fire behavior to reduce in intensity, Fleishman said. It was looking like fire crews would be able to establish a new line around the fire at some point Thursday night, he said.
As for other management strategies, Fleishman said the fire personnel will just be trying to “hold on to (the fire) through this wind event.”
Figures from Thursday morning showed the fire had burned more than 500 acres, but officials did not have more current acreage totals as of Thursday night. The fire was reported June 1 and is burning in the area of the 2000 Pumpkin Fire.
Strong winds that caused the fire to leap its initial containment line are expected to continue through this weekend and have triggered a Red Flag Warning for Friday afternoon. A Red Flag Warning indicates weather conditions that will cause fires to spread rapidly.
The fire’s containment area is bounded by U.S. Highway 180 to the northeast, Forest Road 144 to the west and forest roads 171 and 193 to the south.