June 12, 2009 – 10:00 am - Fire Update

Release Date: Jun 12, 2009

Contact(s): Loretta Benavidez 575-388-8245


June 12, 2009 – 10:00 am - Fire Update
The Sawmill fire on the Silver City Ranger District, located 15 miles southwest of Silver City, NM in the Burro Mountains. Firefighters were successful in controlling the fire on Thursday at a size of 3 acres.
The North fire:  Wilderness Ranger District in the Aldo Leopold Wilderness. Detected 6/10/09 located about 30 miles northeast of Silver City, NM. This lightning-caused fire is about 13 acres in size and firefighters were flown in by helicopter yesterday. An additional hotshot crew is scheduled to arrive today to assist in the suppression efforts on the North fire. The total number of personnel on the fire (including the hotshot crew) is 36.  
Three lighting-caused wildfires continue to be managed to achieve resource objectives within ponderosa pine ecosystems on the Gila National Forest. The Diamond, Meason and Willow fires are expected to remain active until the monsoon season is established, currently predicted for late June or early July.
The NR/SW Wildland Fire Management Team is now managing the Diamond and Meason fires. The team serves as a support organization to the Forest and allows to the Forest to continue response to new incidents. This combined effort helps maintain the highest priority objectives on all incidents, which is firefighter and public safety.
++Diamond fire: Wilderness Ranger District in the Aldo Leopold Wilderness.Detected 5/28/09, located 45 miles north of Silver City, NM. The fire is about 8600 acres in size. A trace of precipitation was recorded on Wednesday resulting in minimal growth. Fire behavior is described as low to moderate, while the fire slowly burns through grass, piñon juniper, and ponderosa pine forest vegetation.
The fire is currently staffed with 63 firefighters.
CLOSURE NOTICE: Plans to close FR (Forest Road) 150 are being formulated today for a closure to begin on Saturday, June 13, for public and firefighter safety. The closure will be from FR 4080R (the road to the trailhead for Trail 74) to FR 225 (Diamond Creek Road). Rocky Canyon Campground and Upper and Lower Black Canyon Campgrounds will also be closed. 
For more information, please call 575-536-2250.
++Meason fire: Wilderness Ranger District in the Gila and Aldo Leopold Wildernesses. Detected 6/1/09, located 35 miles north of Silver City, NM. Estimated size is 4250 acres, exhibiting low to moderate fire behavior and minimal growth due to light rain showers on Wednesday.  Fire is moving along the ground and is primarily being carried by grass, with some burning occurring in piñon juniper and Ponderosa Pine, as well. Structure protection is in place on the private property and plans to notify 6 – 10 occupants of possible evacuation from the Diamond Bar Ranch remain in effect. This is a precautionary measure that may be taken, if needed, to ensure public safety.
107 firefighters are assigned to the Meason fire.
Please see CLOSURE NOTICE information on the ++Diamond fire (above).
For more information, please call 575-536-2250.
++Willow fire: Reserve Ranger District.Detected 5/30/09, located 14 miles northeast of Reserve, NM and 8 miles southeast of Apache Creek, NM. The fire is now estimated to be about 5820 acres in size and continues to exhibit low to moderate fire behavior. The fire is expected to move east towards Cottonwood Canyon and Long Canyon. On Wednesday, the fire did receive rain showers which resulted in minimal fire activity.
Some aerial ignition operations may be used within the next few days to ignite pockets of unburned fuel within the fire perimeter. If these actions are implemented, it could result in an increase in smoke emissions.
The Willow fire is primarily burning in Ponderosa Pine with low intensity fire behavior. If traveling Forest Service roads in or near the fire the area, please attempt to use alternative routes or be prepared for temporary travel delays.
CLOSURE NOTICE: The Continental Divide Trail is CLOSED between Forest Roads 47 and 94.
Currently, 30 firefighting personnel are assigned to the fire.
For more information about the Willow fire, please call: 575-533-6231.
Two Kinds of Fire
A Wildland Fire is any non-structure fire that occurs in the wildland. There are two types of wildland fires. They are wildfires and prescribed fires.
Wildfires are unplanned ignitions or prescribed fires that are declared wildfires.
Some wildfires that occur naturally, by lightning, can be managed to achieve resource management objectives.
Prescribed fires are planned ignitions. They are ignited by management actions to meet specific objectives.
++If a wildfire starts naturally, we can use different strategies and tactics in different parts of the fire. Some examples might be:
  • The part of a wildfire where homes and wildland vegetation mix will have our very highest priority, and where actions will be taken to protect life and property.
  • Another flank of that same fire that is not threatening life and property, and helping the ecosystem might be watched or monitored closely, but not fought. The decision to take this action is based on the Gila National Forest’s Land and Resource Management Plan. Local conditions and the needs of neighbors and cooperating agencies will also weigh in on the decision.
  • Our objectives on a fire can fluctuate due to weather, people’s needs and different jurisdictions.
  •  In some cases the need to protect sensitive wildlife habitat, critical watershed areas, or even transportation corridors and communication infrastructure to include roads and towers, may drive the strategies and tactics that are being used on a fire.
It is the policy of the Gila National Forest to suppress all human-caused wildfires.
For more information about current fire activity on the Gila National Forest, contact the fire information officer at 575-388-8245 or visit the website at http://fs.usda.gov/gila
The Diamond, Meason and Willow fires are updated daily on http://www.inciweb.org/
Visit http://nmfireinfo.wordpress.com/ for New Mexico fire information.