The Ridge and Hull fires, burning in the ponderosa pine forests near Tusayan and the Grand Canyon, are not behaving the way people have come to expect of wildfires in the middle of June. Yet, both lightning-caused fires are burning as they naturally should in this fire-adapted ecosystem: moving slowly but steadily across the forest floor at lower intensity, removing hazardous fuels and promoting healthy vegetation.
Overall, the Hull and Ridge fires are expected to grow in size given the longer-term weather forecast, available fuels, and terrain. Fire activity was minimal yesterday due to higher humidity. Activity will likely increase over the weekend and into next week.
Wildfires do not come with an end date. Fire managers will manage the Hull and Ridge fires within designated areas as long as the fires continue burning in this manner and conditions allow crews to safely do so.
Crews on scene are patrolling, collecting data on fire behavior and on-the-ground conditions, and preparing roads and other natural control features by clearing any brush and conducting burnout operations to create perimeters around the designated areas within which the fires may burn. Many other specialists are actively involved in the management of these incidents. A meteorologist is providing current and forecast weather information, an air resource advisor is monitoring and modeling smoke production and dispersal, and wildlife biologists, botanists, and archaeologists are helping to ensure that natural and cultural resources are protected.
Smoke may be visible from various forest roads in and around the vicinity of these locations including Highway 180 and State Route 64. Within the park, smoke impacts may be most significant along Desert View Drive. If fire activity increases, smoke would also increase. Fire managers will keep the public informed of any potential smoke impacts. AirNow.gov contains a wealth of information about smoke and air quality in your area.
At this time, no direct impacts to developed areas in the nearby communities are anticipated.
Fire personnel and vehicles will be visible to the public. Motorists and visitors are asked to avoid active hot areas and are reminded to use caution and drive with heightened awareness when passing through any fire vicinity.
- Lightning caused; discovered June 4.
- Located approximately 7 miles southeast of Tusayan along forest road 302 near Skinner Tank.
- 611 acres, generally moving south along Skinner Ridge
Hull Fire (co-managed by the Forest Service and Grand Canyon National Park):
- Lightning caused; discovered June 4
- Located near Lower Hull Tank and Hull Cabin along the Kaibab National Forest and Grand Canyon National Park boundary just northeast of the Grand View Lookout and east of Grandview Point.
- 359 acres, spreading in a northerly direction.
The Kaibab National Forest is one of many fire-adapted ecosystems. Its vibrancy and resilience relies on fire occurring in approximately 10-year intervals. Decades of fire suppression, drought, and disease have resulted in an abundance of fuels, which leaves the forest vulnerable to more dangerous high-severity wildfires that can devastate watersheds, destroy wildlife habitat, and risk lives. In addition to reducing hazardous fuels, fire is also the mechanism for recycling nutrients into the soils which promote vegetation, like the composting and mulching process in humid environments.
Hull and Ridge are prime examples of how fire can behave when it occurs in natural return intervals as fire treatments have occurred both areas, most recently with the Lower Fire in 2011 (Hull) and a prescribed fire in 2012 (Ridge). Without an overabundance of accumulated fuels, the Hull and Ridge fires’ flame lengths and rate of spread are lower and smoke is significantly less than a destructive wildfire.
The unique weather of the 2023 has allowed forest managers to use the entire suite of fuels management strategies well into the summer months. So far this year, the Williams and Tusayan Ranger Districts completed over 26,500 acres of prescribed fire, including several thousand acres directly adjacent to communities. Now in June, the continuing cooler weather and higher humidity are contributing to fire managers’ ability to manage lightning-caused wildfires for forest health objectives.
These efforts align with the Forest Service’s 10-year Wildfire Crisis Strategy which aims to increase the use of fire on the landscape as well as other treatments to improve forest resiliency for generations to come.
Additional information can be found on the Kaibab NF website, Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, by calling the Fire Information Hotline at 928-635-8311 or contacting local ranger stations.