As fire managers continue to suppress the Miller Fire burning about 4 miles west of Slide Rock State Park, forest officials are now also managing two other fires within the Coconino National Forest.
Firefighters with the Flagstaff Ranger District responded to a 1-acre wildfire approximately 16 miles west of Flagstaff and south of Garland Prairie that was first reported on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, fire managers for the Mogollon Rim Ranger District are letting a fire reported on Sunday west of Clints Well burn, allowing it to “fulfill its natural role and consume forest debris,” according to a media release.
On Thursday evening, officials announced that the Miller Fire had grown to about 35 acres as it continued to grow slowly through brush, timber and rocky terrain southwest toward the south side of Secret Canyon and Maroon Mountain.
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Fire officials now believe the Miller Fire, which was first reported on May 20, was ignited by lightening.
Both the Volunteer Fire near Flagstaff and the Wilbur Fire, located just south of West Clear Creak Wilderness about 8.5 miles directly west of the intersection of Lake Mary Road and State Route 87, were also started by lightning.
The Miller Fire
The Red Rock Ranger District has closed several trails around the fire, and a closure order has been issued for the area surrounding the fire.
The blaze continues to be worked on by one Hotshot crew, one hand crew, two engines, three helicopters and air attack.
Firefighters formed a control line on the eastern side of the fire in Secret Canyon Tuesday and spent Wednesday holding those lines while working to keep the fire south of Secret Canyon Creek.
Crews plan to continue working to suppress the fire directly at all accessible points and will evaluate inaccessible portions of the fire in order to respond when and if firefighting efforts can safely be conducted.
Rough and rocky terrain and steep cliff faces create challenges for on-the-ground fire suppression efforts. Predicted Friday wind gusts of up to 30 miles per hour could have impeded aerial operations.
The fire was first reported on Saturday, May 20, but due to weather conditions, aerial resources were not able to confirm the fire until Monday.
There are no structures threatened by the fire.
Smoke impacts may be felt to the north and northeast of the fire. Light smoke is expected to settle into the Sedona area overnight.
The Volunteer Fire
Reported on Tuesday, the Volunteer Fire is burning near Volunteer Canyon in the burn footprint of the 2021 Rafael Fire. Firefighters have confined the fire and are assessing to see if managers can let it burn, using it as a sort of prescribed burn.
There are no structures threatened by the fire, and light to moderate smoke will be visible to those in Sycamore Canyon and the Garland Prairie area.
Allowing the fire to move across the landscape and consume forest fuels will help restore the forest to healthier conditions and minimize the risk of severe wildfires in that area.
There are currently no road or trail closures in effect, but visitors are asked to avoid the fire area.
The Wilbur Fire
The Wilbur Fire, currently 2 acres, is smoldering at a low intensity in heavy dead and down mixed conifer trees and logs.
Forest officials have already begun managing the fire as a forest treatment, again using it in a similar way as a prescribed burn.
There are currently no road or trail closures in effect, but visitors are asked to avoid the fire area. As weather warms and dries out the forest, the fire may increase in size and cause increased smoke impacts to the immediate area, West Clear Creek, Clints Well and surrounding communities.
Updates of notable fire activity and smoke impacts can be found on the Coconino National Forest’s social media sites, to include the forest’s Twitter and Facebook pages.