Lightning Sparks Arizona Wildfires


According to the National Park Service, several lightning strikes have sparked a total of six fires along the North Rim of the Grand Canyon National Park and another fire on the Rim of the Tonto National Forest.

There are no fire-related road or trail closures on the North Rim at this time.

The first fire, dubbed the Point Fire by the NPS, was reported on Tuesday and is located about two miles north-northeast of Highway 67 and one mile south of the park's boundary. The 2-acre fire was contained due to its close status to the Saddle Mountain Wilderness, and will be in patrol status until it is declared out.

A release provided by the NPS stated that 5 additional fires were reported on Wednesday, including the Aspen Fire, the Angel Fire, the Butte Fire, the Poplar Fire and the Thompson Fire.

Aspen Fire

The Aspen Fire is located on the Walhalla Plateau, east of the North Rim developed area. Authorities said mixed vegetation -- consisting of ponderosa pine, fir, Mexican locust and dead and downed logs from the 2001 Vista Fire -- is burning about one mile southwest of Vista Encantada on Cape Royal Road.

Fire managers said the Aspen Fire has been very active in the past 36 hours, has grown to approximately 60 acres and has produced smoke that is visible from the North Rim developed area. The smoke has been settling into the Bright Angel Canyon after sundown, authorities said.

According to fire managers, the Aspen Fire is expected to burn for several weeks and will be managed as a "resource benefit" fire, meaning it will be allowed to burn naturally to help native fire-dependent ecosystems. Letting fires burn reduces the risk of larger fires, recycles nutrients, and allows for greater diversity of wildlife.

Angel Fire

The Angel Fire is located north-northwest of the North Rim developed area and about two and a half miles west of Point Imperial.

According to the NPS release, the fire is smoldering and creeping in dead and downed logs from the 2000 Outlet Fire.

Fire managers said the Angel fire is only a tenth of an acre in size and is expected to be managed for resource benefit as well.

Butte Fire

The Butte Fire is located in the inner canyon, east of the Walhalla Plateau and southwest of the Nankoweep area.

Officials said the fire spans roughly 5 acres and is burning in low, woody vegetation.

Fire managers said they intend to let the Butte Fire burn itself out since the fire is located in an extremely remote area and is contained by cliffs and bluffs.

Poplar Fire

The Poplar Fire is located in Kanabownits Canyon, eight miles northwest of the North Rim developed area.

The fire is estimated to be a tenth of an acre in size and is smoldering in dead and down logs from the 2003 Poplar Fire.

Fire managers said they intend to manage it for resource benefit.

Thompson Fire

The Thompson Fire is located within the Range Prescribed Burn Unit that was scheduled for treatment this fall, about 2 miles north of the North Rim developed area and one mile west of Highway 67.

Officials said the fire is burning in a mixed conifer forest.

Fire managers are containing the Thompson Fire, which is classified as a first-entry burn, due to hot-dry conditions and the amount of potential fuel for the fire -- which could lead to undesired spreading, heavy smoke, and other effects.

The National Park Service is coordinating with the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality on all the fires listed above.

Fire In Payson Approaching Highline Trail

Fire officials with the Payson Ranger District said a wildfire spanning 100 acres in the Tonto National Forest in Payson, Ariz., is slowly approaching the Highline Trail.

The fire was sparked by lightning and began on July 20 at about 6 p.m. at the head of upper Dude Creek and has been largely fueled by Ponderosa Pine, fire managers said.

So far, one Hotshot crew, three fire engines, one helicopter, and one air attack plane have been committed to fighting the blaze.

Officials said the fire managing strategy has been modified due to steep topography and firefighter safety, but fire managers will still use existing roads, trails and topographic features to contain the fire.

Recent rains have moderated the fire's intensity have created burning conditions that officials said will help resource benefit objectives.

A smoke advisory for the so-called Rim Fire is in effect for some areas. Officials said smoke may limit visibility on Control Road 64, south of the Rim and Forest Road 300.

Officials also said that diurnal air flow may cause light to moderate smoke to move toward the Whispering Pines community in the evening.

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