Kaibab National Forest fire managers will begin implementing prescribed fire treatments on the first units of the Three Sisters Prescribed Fire Project near Williams beginning Friday of this week. The project is expected to take multiple days to complete, however ignitions will only occur on days that will be most effect for meeting objectives and minimizing smoke impacts to the adjacent rural areas.
The 7400 acre prescribed burn area is located just north of the City of Williams and Interstate 40, east of Forest Road 124, and west of Airport Road and Highway 64. Goals of the prescribed fire treatment include decreasing the threat of unnatural severe wildfire by reducing accumulated fuels, improving forest health, and reintroducing fire to the landscape that aligns with the desired historical condition.
The project will be broken into smaller units that will be scheduled to be burned on days that will help to allow smoke to disperse away from developed areas and ventilate quicker reducing the impacts to local communities.
Area residents can expect to see and hear a helicopter in the area, as aerial ignitions will occur on portions of the burn. Smoke will be highly visible from the City of Williams and from roadways and recreation areas in the general vicinity of this project. Specific areas from which smoke is likely to be noticeable include H.A. Clark Memorial Field airport, Kaibab Lake, portions of State Route 64, Valle, the City of Williams, and Interstate 40.
Smoke is expected to lift during the day and travel northeast toward Red Lake Valley. However, cooler overnight temperatures may cause smoke to settle into low-lying areas surrounding the burn location.
Fire managers are aware that community members may be sensitive to the smoke produced, and they make every effort to limit the amount and duration of production. Prescribed fires with short-term impacts to air quality can help prevent future severe unplanned wildfires under unpredictable conditions with smoke that may pose significant risks to public health and safety.
To learn more about smoke and public health, visit bit.ly/SmokeHealthAwareness.
No road or trail closures are planned as part of the Three Sisters prescribed fire project. However, during operations, fire personnel and vehicles will be visible to the public. Motorists are reminded to slow down and drive with heightened awareness when passing through active project areas.
The Kaibab National Forest is part of a fire-dependent ecosystem. Fire on the landscape is critical to overall ecosystem functioning and the sustainability of local communities, watersheds and wildlife habitat.
Prescribed burns are always dependent on weather and wind conditions, as well as approval from the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality. Members of the public may view approved prescribed burns for any given day on the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality’s website at smoke.azdeq.gov/
Notifications of upcoming prescribed fire projects are provided regularly by news releases throughout the year and through the following sources: