Photo by Les Stukenberg.
What started as a half-acre fire near Pine Flat has grown to more than 20,000 acre feet in just a few days.
The fire has been extremely aggressive, preventing firefighter crews from getting a handle on it. Despite nonstop attempts to slow the blaze, it’s still only about 1 percent contained.
Pete Gordon, Prescott National Forest Fire Chief, said this fire in particular has presented many challenges.
The backcountry it has been racing through is difficult to access, the terrain is steep and rugged, and the fuel loads (vegetation) haven’t burned in at least 45 or 50 years.
“There are areas where this fire is now burning that I’m not sure if we even have a history of when it last burned, so it could be older than that,” Gordon said.
No matter, after about 30 years of being undisturbed, the variety of vegetation found in the Bradshaw Mountains area (known as chaparral) becomes explosive, Gordon said.
Additionally, the fire started south and west of many of Yavapai County’s communities, and the predominant winds this time of year are from the southwest. Then there’s the matter of rain, or, the absence of it.
The last measurable rainfall at the Prescott airport was on May 31, according to the National Weather Service. And in the entire month of May, the Prescott airport only saw a little more than half an inch of precipitation.
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