TUSAYAN — The largest of the four fires in the Jar Complex on the Tusayan Ranger District grew to 280 acres yesterday, providing ecological and other resource benefits on the Kaibab National Forest.
The Mason Fire, located just southwest of Camp 36 Tank about 4 miles south of Grandview Lookout Tower, remains the most active of the fires that are being managed to enhance forest health and wildlife habitat while reducing the potential for high-intensity wildland fires in the future.
Yesterday, fire crews were successful in conducting management ignitions along the northeastern boundary of the 16,100-acre Mason Fire planning area. This work reinforced established perimeters for the fire’s eventual growth and also protected range fences and other potentially fire-sensitive resources in the area.
The Old Fire, which is also within the Mason Fire planning area, is still active but remains at under an acre in size due to rainfall over the last few days. It is located west of Forest Road 2736 just north of Old Automobile Tank. Fire managers remain hopeful it will pick up in activity if weather conditions become drier over the next several days.
Also burning on the Tusayan Ranger District are the Lost and Shale fires, each about an acre in size. 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. The planning area for the fires runs east along Highway 64 starting about 5 miles south of Tusayan and continuing south to Forest Road 308.
Today, fire crews will continue 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. While fire crews conduct prep work, a road crew will continue hauling gravel, blading, and making other improvements to heavily-used roads in the fire 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.
Smoke from the Mason Fire was visible yesterday and will likely be more prominent over the coming days and weeks. 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, Ariz. 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.