Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Strategy Shift for Horseshoe Fire

At this morning's fire briefing in Portal, USFS District Ranger Bill Edwards spoke of a shift in strategy from letting the Horseshoe Fire burn through exceedingly rugged terrain in the Chiricahua Mountains, to an attempt today to restrain its downslope movement along the eastern margin of the active fire front. After burning to the northeast over the past few days, the fire has finally entered somewhat gentler terrain along the eastern front, and, after a reconnaissance yesterday, the fire commanders decided that it is safe enough to send in a crew to try to secure that margin. A primary goal is to protect homes and other structures on the lower eastern slopes of the mountains from the spreading fire.

Bill Edwards addresses fire crew
(Photos by Narca)

In the north and northwest of the active fire front, water drops were used last night to manage the fire, with the goal of keeping the fire on the high ridge leading toward Portal Peak, and not backing downslope towards Cave Creek Canyon and Portal. Conditions won't allow for the fire to be fully contained or extinguished until the rains come.

Fire map of activity through June 14

In fact, we are entering a period of greater instability, as weather becomes hotter and drier, and the fire's behavior could become much more challenging to manage. Crews are taking advantage of the opportunity they are offered right now to manage the fire along the less-rugged eastern margin.

Chiricahuas on June 14

Yesterday evening, a small plume of smoke was visible from Foothills Road (and even from I-10). Fire activity heats up each afternoon. For the past two or three days, the fire has mainly moved through manzanita shrubs, a fire-adapted vegetation type which should recover well.

Back in South Fork, the fire team continues to hold the fire at the canyon bottom, where a good, low-intensity burn is being achieved.

Another community meeting will be held tomorrow night, Wednesday, at 7 PM at the Portal Fire Station. We'll be introduced to the new fire team commander and given an update. 

Again, thank you to the very professional fire crews who have been working so hard to protect both the community and the ecological values of the Chiricahuas. 

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