Globe area residents are warned to expect increased smoke from the Pinal Fire as it spreads through Ponderosa pine and conifer stringers. A Temporary Flight Restriction of 15 miles long by 7 miles wide has been placed over the Pinal Fire area encompassing Pioneer Campground, the 55-651 roads, and around the north side of the ridge.
“Smoke management specialists are monitoring smoke conditions in close coordination with the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality and Gila County Office of Emergency Management,” according to Andrew Mandell, incident commander.
The lightning-caused fire that started May 8 on Pinal Mountain is now at 700 acres, and its smoke is clearly visible in the Globe area. A closure order went into effect at 6 a.m. Tuesday and will remain in effect for the foreseeable future. The last wildfire in the area was in 1952, so crews will encourage low-intensity surface fire to burn away accumulations of live and dead plant material to prevent future devastating wildfire.
The structure protection group have laid hose and place ports tanks around the private land, homes and forest improvements. Water tenders will be available to fill tanks and plumb hose lay. Crews have established a helispot near Pinal Peak, according to the incident commander news release. Mandell asks that local resident refrain from flying drones or remote control aircraft in the area because “firefighting aircraft cannot fly if drones or remote control aircraft are in the air.”
The fire is currently “creeping and smoldering” in pine needles, and because of recent rain and snow, moisture in the fuels is high enough to keep fire activity at a minimum. Other fuels are oak litter and brush, manzanita and snowberry, and, as the fire heads up the mountain toward Signal, Sulphide Del Ray and Pinal Peaks, it will encounter more pine, fir and aspen.
Firefighters are preparing road ways and reducing hazards by clearing vegetation around structures. There is private land and several residences in the vicinity of the fire, so firefighters are protecting those with “mechanical treatment” and by removing brush with chain saws and chippers, according to the news release. Mechanical treatment refers to equipment used to chop, chip, crush or break apart fuels such as brush and small trees. There are also electronic and communication sites, campgrounds, infrastructure and the Mexican Spotted Owl, which is an endangered species, in the wildfire area.
The public has limited access to the Globe Recreation Center at this time due to Forest Service and other fire crews using it as a command center, according to the Globe Public Works Department. The fire is in the Tonto National Forest six miles south of Globe near Pioneer Pass. As of this morning, a Central West Zone Type 3 Incident Management Team had taken command of the fire. There are five crews, eight engines, two Type 3 helicoptor and a total of 240 firefighters assigned to the incident, according to the daily update from the command center.