GRAND CANYON NATIONAL PARK, Arizona (AP) — Authorities evacuated and closed part of Grand Canyon National Park on Wednesday as high winds drove a prescribed fire out of control.
Park spokeswoman Vanya Chavez said the blaze was reclassified as a wildfire Tuesday night after high winds fanned the flames into a larger, more serious fire the size of which had yet to be determined.
Chavez said all visitors and nonessential personnel in the developed part of the park’s north rim — 200 to 300 people — were evacuated Wednesday afternoon.
The fire was one of two ignited April 25 that were intended to improve ecology while material that could feed a wildfire. Both fires were in mixed conifer forests. They covered about 500 acres of the planned 1,500 before one blew out of control.
Firefighters said the flames were relatively low despite the high winds and didn’t threaten the developed area.
The fires don’t affect the park’s main visitor entrance and development on the South Rim or the park’s eastern entrance, park officials said.
The North Rim opened May 1 on a limited basis and other facilities were to open Friday. The area will remain closed until the fire is contained.