UPDATE – August 9, 2023 – Two lightning-caused wildfires located on the Coconino National Forest are showing increased containment following two days of suppression efforts.
Smoke may remain visible over the next few days while fire consumes unburned pockets of fuel located within the fire’s perimeter. Fire personnel will continue to monitor fire lines as necessary while working toward 100% containment.
Monsoon activity is predicted to return and remain throughout the week, which will aid in suppression efforts.
A closure order surrounding the area of the Scott Fire will remain in effect until the area is safe for public entry.
Fire managers made the decision to pivot to a full suppression strategy on both the Scott Fire and the Luke Fire Sunday afternoon.
Prior to pivoting toward suppression, both fires were being managed for forest health. This management style resulted in the successful treatment of nearly 200 acres of Coconino NF land. The treated areas are located along Forest Road (FR) 523 near Newman Park and along Interstate 17. This type of treatment resulted in the reduction of forest fuels – such as dead pine needles and fallen leaves – which improves the health of the fire-adapted ecosystem of the Coconino NF.
The Scott Fire is currently being managed by the Northern Arizona Type 3 Incident Management Team. Management will transition back to the Coconino NF later this week.
This is the last planned news release for the Scott and Luke fires. For more information on the Scott Fire, please visit inciweb.wildfire.gov.
Firefighters working to suppress Scott, Luke fires south of Flagstaff
Fire managers treat 200 acres during favorable conditions
UPDATE – August 7, 2023 – Fire managers are pivoting to a full suppression strategy on both the Scott Fire and the Luke Fire, a pair of lightning-caused wildfires located south of Flagstaff, after both fires resulted in the successful treatment of several hundred acres of Coconino National Forest land for forest health.
The Scott Fire is currently 180 acres and the Luke Fire is currently 9 acres.
Fire managers made the decision late last week to strategically manage both naturally-ignited fires for the long-term benefit of the fire-adapted ecosystem of the Coconino NF.
Prior to the fire management process, forestry and fire experts create a strategy that identifies resource objectives while relying on a risk management process. Objectives often include the reduction of fuels – such as dry pine needles and dead leaves – that contribute to unhealthy forest conditions that can lead to a greater risk of high-intensity wildfire. The risk management process determines the point at which the risks of suppressing a fire outweigh the benefits produced by the fire.
Fire managers have decided to fully suppress the Scott and Luke fires for several reasons, including predicted wind and weather conditions. A full suppression strategy will also free up firefighters and other resources for use on other emerging incidents in the area.
Scott Fire crews spent Sunday using a dozer to build line along the east edge of the fire and are still working to secure already constructed line along the north edge of the fire. All firing operations have been ceased.
Firefighters currently assigned to both the Scott and Like fires will remain on the fires. Scott Fire lines will be staffed late into tonight.
The fire is currently being managed by the Northern Arizona Type 3 Incident Management Team, which assumed control of the fire earlier this weekend.
“We’re glad we were able to put low-intensity fire on the ground in wildland-urban interface areas where fuels treatment will benefit vulnerable communities,” said Incident Commander Matt Brown. “Safety remains our No. 1 priority and the flexibility of our fire response reflects that.”
In addition to the forest health-boosting benefits of these strategically-managed lightning fires, several prescribed fire projects planned for this fall and next spring will continue work to increase the use of fire on the Coconino National Forest’s landscape to improve forest resiliency, as detailed in the Forest Service’s 10-year Wildfire Crisis Strategy.
“Two-hundred acres is better than zero acres,” said Georgie Beck, Acting Flagstaff Deputy District Ranger. “Putting fire on the ground to protect our communities remains one of our highest priorities here on the Coconino and we’re looking forward to resuming our use of beneficial fire once conditions are better suited to this crucial work.”
A closure order remains in effect for the Scott Fire.
Area of 80-acre Scott Fire closed; Luke Fire at 9 acres
Both lightning-caused fires being managed for forest health
UPDATE – August 6, 2023 – The Coconino National Forest is still in the process of managing two fires located south of Flagstaff to benefit the overall health of the forest.
Smoke will remain visible from Interstate 17 as well as the Flagstaff and Sedona areas during the fire management process.
No structures are currently threatened by either fire.
The lightning-caused Scott Fire is currently staffed by two suppression modules, three engines, one dozer and miscellaneous overhead.
Crews assigned to the Scott Fire are building and securing hand line along the north perimeter of the fire in addition to preparing nearby areas for firing operations. Crews plan to conduct firing operations in small blocks over the coming days as part of an effort to protect infrastructure at risk, including I-17.
The Scott Fire is currently being managed by The Northern Arizona Type 3 Incident Management Team and was first reported 5 p.m. July 31.
Firefighters are continuing their forest-benefitting work on the Luke Fire as well.
The lightning-caused Luke Fire is currently 9 acres and is located between I-17 and Stoneman Lake.
Resources assigned to the Luke Fire include five engines and miscellaneous overhead.
Luke Fire crews spent Saturday monitoring fire activity and preparing fire-adjacent areas for operations to minimize impacts to the values at risk located in the immediate fire area. Resources are currently scouting the larger fire area to identify what work needs to be completed to allow the fire to move across the landscape.
The Luke Fire was first reported 4 p.m. July 31 and is being managed by the Coconino NF.
The management of these fires aligns with the Forest Service’s 10-year Wildfire Crisis Strategy, which aims to increase the use of fire on the landscape in addition to other treatments to improve forest resiliency for generations to come.
A combination of naturally-ignited low-intensity wildfires and planned prescribed fire – along with other treatments like mechanical thinning and tree removal – can prepare the Coconino NF’s landscape to better handle unexpected wildfires that occur during times of critical fire weather, such as on high wind days and in drought conditions.
When lightning ignites a portion of forest landscape fire managers follow a process outlined in the Wildland Fire Decision Support System (WFDSS).
During the WFDSS process, local forestry and fire experts consult maps and historical records which are used to identify critical values at risk. They also use fire behavior models to determine the potential for the fire to grow over time. This information helps guide fire managers into developing effective strategies and tactics to use to manage the wildfire as it moves across the landscape in an advantageous way.
Every wildfire response is based on a careful evaluation of firefighter and public safety as well as the risk to other important values such as communities and infrastructure. Regard for human safety and management of risk guide all fire management decisions and actions.
Coconino NF managing two lightning-caused wildfires south of Flagstaff for forest health
Arizona News – August 5, 2023 – The Coconino National Forest is in the beginning stages of managing two lightning-caused wildfire starts – located south of the City of Flagstaff – for forest health.
Smoke from both fires will remain visible along Interstate 17 throughout the fire management process.
The Scott Fire, located roughly 5 miles south of Kachina Village between I-17 and Highway 89 (GPS: 35°01’29.4″N 111°43’04.3″W), was first reported 5 p.m. July 31 and is about 16 acres burning in ponderosa, oak and small amounts of juniper.
Resources on the Scott Fire include one Hotshot crew, one hand crew, two engines, one dozer and miscellaneous overhead.
The Luke Fire is 8.5 acres and is located between I-17 and Stoneman Lake (GPS: 34°47’42.8″N 111°33’55.9″W). It was first reported 4 p.m. July 31 and is experiencing minimal fire behavior. Resources assigned to the Luke Fire include three engines and miscellaneous overhead.
There are no structures threatened by the Luke and Scott fires.
Wildfires are a natural part of the Coconino NF’s ecosystem, and when managed diligently and properly following the requisite planning process, improve the landscape long-term in several ways.
Low-intensity fire works to release nutrients into soils and reduce the accumulation of hazardous fuels on the forest floor, such as dry pine needles and fallen leaves.
The management of naturally-ignited wildfire can also protect critical infrastructure, watersheds, wildlife habitat and culturally sensitive areas from future high-severity wildfires.
The Scott and Luke wildfires are in areas where previous fires have occurred and prescribed fires are planned. Managing both the Scott and the Luke wildfires for forest health will increase the amount of treated land near Kachina Village and Mountainaire and work to tie together the fire history in this fire-dependent ecosystem.
This will help further reduce hazardous fuels and help protect infrastructure, property and resources near the surrounding communities.
The management of these fires aligns with the Forest Service’s 10-year Wildfire Crisis Strategy, which aims to increase the use of fire on the landscape as well as other treatments to improve forest resiliency for generations to come.
There are no active road, trail or area closures at this point, but forest visitors are asked to avoid the fire areas and remain cognizant of firefighting operations.
The Northern Arizona Type 3 Incident Management Team has been ordered to oversee Scott Fire operations and will assume control of the fire this weekend.
The Coconino NF will continue managing the Luke Fire at this time.