Ignitions begin on lightning-caused Wolf Fire on Mogollon Rim Ranger District; area surrounding fire closed to public

Release Date: 

Contact(s): Coconino National Forest Public Affairs Email: 2024.wolf@firenet.gov Phone: 928-

HAPPY JACK, Ariz., May 7, 2024 — Ignitions have started on the Wolf Fire, a lightning-sparked wildfire located about 3 miles northwest of Clints Well on the Coconino National Forest’s Mogollon Rim Ranger District.A closure order has been issued for the area surrounding the wildfire.

Fire managers had already planned to treat the area of the Wolf Fire with the Clints prescribed fire project scheduled for later this month.

Despite the change in cause of ignition – from a planned prescribed fire to an unplanned naturally-sparked wildfire – fire managers will proceed with ignitions as part of an overall fire management plan to improve the health of the forest landscape.

Fire managers are looking to treat about 2,000 acres of land over the next few days and are hoping to treat 11,000 acres over the course of the next roughly two weeks.

The northern Arizona-based Type 3 Incident Management Team assumed management of the 6-acre Wolf Fire on Monday, May 6.

“We’re looking forward to using the Wolf Fire to accomplish several objectives for this piece of land,” said Deputy Incident Commander Jesse Causer. “The management techniques we’re implementing here allow us to reduce hazardous fuel loading, protect the nearby C.C. Cragin Watershed and fulfill our obligations to the Forest Service’s Wildfire Crisis Strategy.”

Heavy smoke impacts along Lake Mary Road are expected over the coming days. Speed limits in the Wolf Fire area – from mile post 300 to the junction of Highway 87 – will be temporarily reduced to allow for firefighter and public safety.

Motorists are asked to remain cognizant of fire personnel working in the area.

A temporary flight restriction has been issued for the area surrounding the Wolf Fire. Drone operators are asked to abide by the issued restrictions.

Firefighters with the Blue Ridge Hotshots begin ignitions on the Wolf Fire, a lightning-sparked wildfire located on the Coconino National Forest's Mogollon Rim Ranger District, on Tuesday, May 7, 2024.

Lightning-caused wildfires allow an opportunity for land treatment: The removal of forest fuels – such as pine needle accumulation, dead and down trees and other dry plant matter – that create hazardous conditions that could lead to potential catastrophic wildfire.

Naturally-ignited wildfires work similarly to prescribed fires in that they allow fire managers to help fire fulfill its natural role in the northern Arizona ecosystem.

Land treatment using fire – whether it’s conducted as part of a planned prescribed fire or part of an unplanned wildfire – is an important part of the Forest Service’s 10-year Wildfire Crisis Strategy, which aims to reduce the risk of wildfire to critical infrastructure and communities.

As part of the overall Wildfire Crisis Strategy, the Coconino National Forest is committed to restoring land and protecting watersheds – including work on the Cragin Watershed Protection Project – as part of the wider Four Forest Restoration Initiative (4FRI).

Throughout the fire management process, fire managers will employ a strategic, risk-based response that is appropriate for changing conditions on the ground. This response will use a full range of management actions that consider fire and fuel conditions, weather, values at risk and resource availability.

Smoke is an unavoidable byproduct of land restoration work and wildfire. While early spring wind patterns typically funnel smoke upward for a wider distribution that will lessen smoke impact to nearby communities, area residents and visitors should be prepared for lingering smoke in the Wolf Fire area. More information is available at airnow.gov.