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Thu, Oct. 17

Jar Complex Fires on Tusayan Ranger District benefiting forest

The Jar Fire in the Tusayan Ranger District. Photo/U.S.F.S.

The Jar Fire in the Tusayan Ranger District. Photo/U.S.F.S.

TUSAYAN, Ariz. - Fires in the Jar Complex fire area on the Tusayan Ranger District of the Kaibab National Forest are being allowed to grow to provide ecological and community protection benefits.

The Mason Fire, which is the largest of the four lightning-caused fires, grew to 280 acres on July 7 and is expected to pick up in activity due to the changing weather conditions. Firefighters began management ignitions along perimeter roads of the Mason Fire on July 5, in order to reinforce boundaries established for the fire and protect fire-sensitive resources such as range fences.

The Mason Fire is located southwest of Camp 36 Tank about four miles south of Grandview Lookout Tower and is burning predominantly in ponderosa pine.

Fire managers will use drip torches to burn fuels along Forest Road 301A from its intersection with FR 317 west toward FR 304. FR 301A serving as the northeastern boundary of the 16,100-acre planning area established for the Mason and Old fires which are being managed to achieve resource-related objectives such as allowing fire to play its natural role in a fire-adapted ecosystem and improving overall forest health conditions. The Old Fire, located west of Forest Road 2736 just north of Old Automobile Tank, remains at under an acre in size but will likely increase in both size and activity as conditions dry out.

The other two fires that are part of the Jar Complex are the Lost and Shale fires, which are each just under an acre in size. The Lost Fire is located about six miles south of Tusayan and a quarter mile east of Highway 64. The Shale Fire is about a mile southeast of the Lost Fire just west of the junction of forest roads 2703 and 2703A. Fire managers have established a 3,600-acre planning area in which these two fires will be allowed to expand in order to provide greater protection to the town of Tusayan and other nearby infrastructure.

Besides conducting management ignitions along the northeastern boundary of the Mason Fire planning area, firefighters will also continue additional work in preparation for fire growth including lining archaeological sites, trick tanks, range fences and any other potentially fire-sensitive resources within the established planning areas. Motorists using forest roads 301, 301A, 302 and 320 are asked to use caution due to the presence of heavy equipment for the road improvement work and firefighting trucks and personnel.

While smoke from the fires has not been very visible over the last few days due to cloud cover and rain, drier conditions in the forecast are expected to lead to increased fire activity and smoke production. The Mason Fire is most likely to produce smoke visible by members of the public. Due to prevailing winds, smoke will largely be pushed toward the northeast, making it visible from Desert View in Grand Canyon National Park and from Cameron, Arizona. As the four fires pick up in activity, smoke columns are likely to become more visible from other areas including the Town of Tusayan, Highway 64 and Highway 180.

Fire managers have defined a 3,600-acre planning area within which the two fires will be allowed to grow, bringing the entire Jar Complex planning area size to about 19,700 acres.

Much of that 19,700-acre planning area is ponderosa pine forests that have seen various forms of treatment over the last several years.

Fire managers are hopeful that the Jar Complex fires will continue forest restoration work through those prior treatments of the area.

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