Forest Service and Sedona to host Fire and Smoke open house Aug. 23
VERDE VALLEY -- In response to concerns over wildland fires and smoke management in the Verde Valley, the Forest Service and the City of Sedona will host an Open House meeting at the City Council Chambers, Aug. 23, from 4 to 6 p.m.
Fire Managers from the Coconino, Prescott and Kaibab National Forests and Arizona Department of Environmental Quality will be on hand to talk to the public concerning smoke issues.
Firefighter and public safety is the first priority when fighting fires. There are two types of fire in the forest: wildfires and prescribed fires. Fire hazards and dense growth conditions in forests have increased over the years. Wildfires can produce a large amount of smoke.
When a wildfire begins, the agency makes assessments to determine how the fire will be managed. Fire can be used as nature intended to reduce heavy fuel accumulations. At other times, crews actively fight fires when communities, property or people are at risk.
Wildfires and prescribed fires will produce smoke because of the high concentration of available woody material in the forests. The Coconino, Kaibab, and Prescott National Forests work together to minimize those smoke impacts. We work and live in areas that may be impacted by fire and we understand the concerns of smoke.
The Forest Service implements strategies to safely manage fires and smoke impacts. Those include coordinating and collaborating with local agencies and National Forests to minimize smoke impacts, planning prescribed fires when weather can help ventilate and disperse smoke, shorten burning periods of prescribed fires and wildfires. They also include strategies to mitigate heavy fuels which emit smoke for extended periods and to work closely with ADEQ to monitor air quality during burning events by using air quality monitors, which can be viewed on-line. (http://www.phoenixvis.net/PPMmain.aspx)
Burn larger acres in shorter periods of time to mitigate long term smoke exposure.
When wildfires occur or prescribed fires are planned, the Forest Service will inform the public to raise awareness of possible smoke impacts. This is completed by press releases for radio and newspapers, public website postings, and e-mail notification.
In 2010, there were more than 236 wildfires on the Coconino National Forest, 114 were human caused and 122 lightning-caused. Still, fire frequency has declined in comparison to the 300 fires in 2009 and the five-year average.
Fires currently burning: Rocky Fire, 800 acres, 2 miles south of Stoneman Lake near Rocky Gulch; Sandrock and Zeus Fires 520 acres, near junction of SRs 260 and 87; Scout Fire, 500 acres, 6 miles south of Clints Well; Bolt Fire, 1780 acres, 6 miles northeast of Munds Park, off Forest Road 132A
Current wildland fire information can be found on the Coconino National Forest website at: www.coconinoforest.us