TUSAYAN — As anticipated by fire managers, two lightning-caused wildfires being managed to improve forest health on the Tusayan Ranger District of the Kaibab National Forest merged yesterday, bringing the total number of acres treated to 2,200. The Mason and Old fires, which are part of the Jar Complex, are located about 7 miles southeast of the Town of Tusayan and 4 miles south of Grandview Lookout Tower.
The two fires are being managed to achieve resource objectives such as enhancing wildlife habitat and reducing the potential for future high-intensity wildland fires within a predetermined 16,100-acre planning area. Today, fire managers expect the combined Mason and Old fires to continue backing through ponderosa pine forest toward the south southwest between forest roads 2733 and 684A/684.
“We expected that the Mason and Old fires would eventually merge,” said Josh Miller, assistant fire management officer for the Tusayan Ranger District. “This is not only good for treating accumulated fuels such as pine needles, brush and small trees in the forest, but it’s also good for ensuring the safety of our fire crews. Managing one fire in an area is safer so that we never have unburned fuels between an active fire and our firefighters. All of our management actions to date have been planned and implemented in anticipation of these fires eventually merging.”
Smoke production from the Jar Complex is expected to be lighter over the next few days due to increasing cloud cover and monsoonal activity. However, it may still be visible from Desert View, Cameron, Tusayan, and highways 64 and 180. Overnight and during the early morning hours, smoke has settled closer to Tusayan and south toward Red Butte. However, as the sun warms up the morning air, that smoke has been lifting and dissipating quickly. Motorists should watch for smoke and use extra caution when driving highways 64 and 180 in the early morning hours.