Fire personnel from the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests are on scene and continuing their response to the Mesa Fire, located on the Black Mesa Ranger District.
The fire was initially reported by a USFS lookout on the 3rd of July. A lightning strike has been determined to be the cause. The fire is currently 650 acres and is 15% contained. https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/8217/The fire is burning in rugged terrain near Deer Lake Canyon, a steep canyon that runs into Chevelon Canyon. Due to the inaccessibility of the current fire location, firefighters are using an indirect strategy utilizing existing roads and favorable terrain to support full suppression activities. Tactical firing operations will continue as weather conditions allow. Drones may also be utilized in these efforts. Smoke is expected to be visible in the coming days, particularly from Hwy 260 and the community of Forest Lakes. An interactive smoke map at https://fire.airnow.gov/ allows you to zoom into your area to see the latest smoke conditions. Operations will continue as weather and fire conditions allow, while simultaneously placing firefighter safety foremost in consideration. There is a Temporary Flight Restriction (TFR) in effect, this restricts non-fire aircraft over the Mesa Fire. This includes civilian drones and private planes. Unauthorized aircraft in the area can ground firefighting aircraft, hinder firefighting efforts, and can also result in criminal charges for the offender. If you fly, we can’t. For more information regarding the TFR please visit https://tfr.faa.gov/tfr2/list.html The public is advised to avoid the area if possible. If travel near the area is necessary, please use caution on roadways, watch for heavy equipment in the area, and slow down. These steps increase safety for both the public and for firefighters responding in the area.
St. Johns, AZ- On Wednesday, June 22, 2022, the White
Mountain Fire Coordinating Group met to discuss the current fire restrictions
and monsoonal rains.
Beginning Friday, June 24, 2022, the unincorporated areas of
Apache and Navajo Counties, the Town of Pinetop-Lakeside, the towns of Taylor
and Snowflake, Eagar, Springerville as well as the City of Show Low and the
Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests will rescind all fire restrictions.
The decision to rescind fire restrictions included the analysis
of several key data points including the energy release components (ERC) of the
fuels in the region. The ERC is valuable
in determining fire danger because it acts as a fuel moisture index for all
types of live and dead fuels. It tells fire managers how hot and fast the fuels
will burn. The ERC’s have fallen well below the 90th percentile and are now in
approximately the 50th percentile which is a good indicator of the fuel
moisture content. In comparison, the ERC’s peaked toward the end of May over
the 97th percentile which was one of the leading reasons for entering
Stage 2 restrictions. Another key data
set is the number of fires (human or natural caused) throughout the region,
which have been at record lows this year.
In addition, the projected weather forecast is for ample
monsoon activity to be widespread across Northern Arizona with the daily minimum
RH values (relative humidity) in the 30-45 percent range in the White Mountain
Region, with maximum afternoon daily wind gusts no more than 20 mph. The 6 to 10-day
and monthly weather outlooks are also a deciding factor in restrictions. These data sets are forecasted to be above
normal chances for precipitation and below normal temperatures for this time of
Finally, the group also assesses the availability of
resources that would be called upon should a fire start. Most, if not all, of
our local resources that have been sent to other areas to combat fires, have or
are returning to their home base locations. Additionally, the USFS has a task
force stationed in Lakeside as well as a large number of available federal
resources. Further, the Arizona Department of Forestry and Fire Management as
well as the BIA Fort Apache Agency have access to additional resources.
“That being said, even with having received some much-needed
moisture and more forecast in the future, it is imperative that our community
members and visitors stay vigilant and follow good land stewardship practices
that will ensure our forests, homes and businesses are protected year-round.
Therefore, we ask that our residents and visitors continue to practice fire
safety with campfires and debris burning. When extinguishing any fire, be sure
to drown it with water, stir the water in, and feel the area with the back of
your hand for any heat, repeating as necessary to ensure the fire is completely
out. Further, at no time should you ever
leave a fire of any kind unattended,” stated Catrina Jenkins, Navajo County
The White Mountain Fire Coordinating Group would like to
thank all of our residents and visitors for their compliance to fire
restrictions, together we are able to keep our communities safer.
Please continue to follow the Apache County Emergency
Management and Preparedness Facebook page as well as the Navajo County
Emergency Management and Preparedness Facebook page and 311info.net for updates
on fire restrictions and other pertinent, vetted information pertaining to
local hazards and preparedness.
FORT APACHE FIRE CLOSURE STAGE 2 FIRE RESTRICTIONS
Executive Order No. 06202202
Closures and Fire Restrictions on the Fort Apache Indian Reservation,
Exceptions for Recreation and Other Activities
of the White Mountain
Apache Tribe hereby implements the following restrictions, pursuant to authority vested in the Chairman of the by Section 5.3
(B) of the White Mountain Apache Tribe Government Code.
The Chairman of the White Mountain Apache Tribe (“Tribe”), by signing this Executive Order, hereby imposes restrictions on public recreation to and within specified areas of the Fort Apache Indian Reservation (“Reservation”). This Executive Order applies to all Tribal members and non members, and is needed to protect our lands against the current fire danger that threatens the Tribe’s natural resources, timber, wildlife, economic resources, security, health, welfare and public safety. It is the intent of this Order to reduce the likelihood of human-caused wildfires on the Reservation.
of the publicly-open recreational lakes and campsites located on the Fort
Apache Indian Reservation shall remain open to the public throughout the
summer, subject to the hereby updated Stage 2 Fire Restrictions,
and additional subsequent
restrictions, as may be necessary. Additionally, all back-country sites on
the Reservation are closed to the public until further notice, with exceptions for Law Enforcement, Game & Fish and
Forest Rangers. This Order will be
strictly enforced due to the drought that has created dangerous conditions
conducive to accidental or intentionally-set fires.
Restricted areas include those unpopulated
areas and non-exempted recreational sites within the following boundaries and as indicated on the
along the eastern Fort Apache
Indian Reservation boundary
(NE to SE comers);
South along the Black River and Salt River (SE to SW comers);
West from the Salt River along the western Reservation boundary up to the NW comer of the Reservation and
the northern boundary;
North along the Fort Apache Indian Reservation Boundary
(NW to NE comers);
Traffic will not be permitted
on R-55 beyond the junction
at Rock Creek (R-55 & R-30);
Traffic will not be allowed on Y-70 beyond Seven Mile Hill;
Salt River and Black
River recreation sites are closed;
of Cibecue School;
North of Cibecue.
The following recreational lakes, rivers, and campsite areas
are hereby CLOSED:
Drift Fence Lake;
Christmas Tree Lake;
Bonito Prairie Stock Tanks;
Fork above Rock Creek Jct.; and
Diamond Creek from 1st bridge up to 2nd bridge.
for closed areas: All areas closed
within this Executive Order shall remain open for fire-fighting
professionals and individuals on official Tribal business by relevant Tribal
Programs, BIA personnel, timber harvesting activities, and critical infrastructure
personnel. All such program personnel/vehicles need to be equipped with fire mitigation measures such as fire extinguishers, tools, radio communications, and PPE (some
combination of one or more of these items). The
following departments and programs will collaborate with the Game Rangers and
inform them of authorized staff and authorized locations where work is
Tribal Forestry staff, crews, and contractors;
Fire and Forestry
personnel and crews;
Rangers and Forest Ranger;
and Fish staff
and crews (Wildlife, Fisheries, Recreation);
and Lion Outfitter
Cultural Resources and Archaeology;
Transportation and Roads Departments;
Critical infrastructure personnel; and
Public Safety Officers, including Police, Fire and
Rescue, and EMS.
OPEN AREAS WITH NO CAMPFIRES
recreational lakes and camp site areas shall remain OPEN with Stage 2 Fire
Restrictions in effect:
Little Bear Lake;
Lower Log Campsites;
Upper Log Campsites;
Fork to Rock Creek
Diamond Creek area from Pump station up to Fish Hatchery;
Cibecue Creek camp grounds (south of West End Elk Camp turn off).
Roads that are used as boundaries of this area will remain open to public
traffic, unless otherwise specified.
STAGE 2 FIRE RESTRICTIONS IN EFFECT:
attending, or using fire, campfire or charcoal-burning devices
are prohibited until
further notice. The use
of propane campfire or fire pit devices is prohibited as well.
EXEMPTIONS: Fires that are related to traditional ceremonies, religious events, wakes, and residential/tailgate cooking fires are allowed within the communities and within designated
ceremonial areas. Propane grills are
11. No debris burning until further notice.
is prohibited, except within an enclosed vehicle or
building. 1v. Fireworks are always
prohibited on the Fort Apache Indian Reservation.
v. Discharging of firearms is prohibited.
v1. All motorized
travel is restricted to developed roads.
v11. Operating an
internal combustion engine other than a motor vehicle in forest and woodland areas is prohibited until
v111. Welding or operating an acetylene or other torch with open flame m forest and woodland areas is prohibited until
1x. Cattle branding
is prohibited until further notice.
x. Antler hunting is prohibited until further notice.
B. INDUSTRIAL RESTRICTIONS:
Power saws are prohibited from 10:00 a.m. until 8:00 p.m. for any wood cutting/thinning
activity, except project crews which are properly
equipped and performing fuels treatment projects may continue to work until 2:00 p.m. with one-half hour of monitoring
by the entire crew following operations plus the provision identified under fire guards. Fire guards shall remain on duty each day
for two hours after wood works has stopped. Fuels
projects may mitigate this requirement with
the addition of fire qualified engine patrols for two hours following
completion of operations for the day. This restriction does not apply to
residential and commercial properties.
11. Crawler-tractors, skidders, and sheers may be used until 10:00 a.m. Turbine-driven rubber-tire skidders,
feller-bunchers, delimbers, and clearing equipment
may be used until 12:00 noon. Operation on mineral soil .involving road excavating, watering, grading, surfacing, rock crushing, and/or other equipment maintenance may continue with
unrestricted hours. Operations NOT
on mineral soil must also shut down
at 12:00 noon.
is prohibited by the general public and is only allowed by authorized Tribal, Federal, or
commercial personnel, and it is limited to commercial areas. Welding is not allowed
in forest or woodland areas. Authorized
personnel must have a fire extinguisher on
hand and must stop work at 12:00 noon.
ALL WOODCUTTING IS
PROHIBITED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE, EXCEPT FOR THE FOLLOWING AREAS AND FOR THE
PURPOSES OF CEREMONIES AND WAKES ONLY:
East of Cibecue
Creek; South of BIA Route 12 (Cibecue Creek
to Cibecue Junction), US Route 60 (Cibecue Junction to Carrizo Junction) and State Route 73 to Fort Apache; west of White
River to the confluence of the White and Black Rivers. (See the attached map.)
firewood permit (no fee) is required to harvest :firewood in the designated
area noted above.
Also, a permit (no fee) is required to
harvest other forest products and the
poles used in a Sunrise Dance ceremony. The permit will serve as a pass to
and from firewood gathering areas and the closed forest. Permits may be picked up at the Fort Apache Agency’s Branch of
Forestry Office. All persons engaged
in firewood gathering must have hand tools to extinguish any fires that may
start, such as shovels, rakes, axes, and McLeods.
PENALTIES AND FINES
Order shall become effective beginning
Saturday, June 18, 2022. This policy shall remain effective until conditions improve at which
time an announcement will be issued by the Tribe to lift the restrictions imposed herein. Anyone that violates this Order shall be
subject to civil and/or criminal fines and penalties up to $2,000.00 and may be subject to imprisonment, where applicable, damages, and federal prosecution if unlawful actions lead to loss
oflife or natural resources.
The Tribal Forestry Department
and Fire and Rescue, in conjunction with BIA Fire Management, and Game and Fish, Tribal Forest Rangers,
and Tribal Police shall inform the public of
any supplemental restrictions and are
responsible for monitoring and
enforcing full compliance with the policy as stated herein. This Order
is to be distributed to all Tribal programs, departments, enterprises, and federal, local, and state agencies, as well as to
members of the news media. Furthermore, all Tribal Agency and Enterprise supervisors shall
cooperate fully and provide any assistance necessary to help carry out the terms and conditions specified in this Executive Order.
Velasquez, Chairman White Mountain Apache Tribe