Grand Canyon fire spreads, 17 May 2000

Grand Canyon fire spreads

by ENN (Environmental News Network), 17 May 2000

Winds gusting up to 50 mph helped prevent a 10,000-acre wildfire from moving further north of the Grand Canyon.

However, the overall acreage of the fire, which started out as a prescribed burn, still grew on Tuesday, and the high winds prevented helicopters from fighting the fire by air, officials said.

Vicki Allred, a spokeswoman for Grand Canyon National Park, said western winds drove the flames over and down the canyon’s North Rim, which has less forestry, and away from birch and fir trees to the north even while expanding the acreage.

The Outlet fire, which began as a 1,500-acre prescribed burn on April 25, was driven out of control by high winds a week ago. The prescribed fire was designed to help rejuvenate forested areas and prevent future wildfires.

Allred called it 43 percent contained on Tuesday but said it burned about 1,000 feet below the rim in some areas before losing momentum as the number of trees dwindled. The South Rim of the Grand Canyon, the side on which the vast majority of visitors go, remained open.

About 900 firefighters and support personnel battled the fire Tuesday afternoon, and Allred said officials hoped for more. “This remains a very dangerous fire, especially if the winds shift,” she said.

Elsewhere, firefighters were nearing full containment on a 9,359-acre wildfire in the Tonto National Forest in central Arizona east of Phoenix. The fire was 95 percent contained Tuesday and should be fully contained by tonight, said forest spokesman Jim Payne.

The number of firefighters had been reduced to 36 as crews were sent to the Grand Canyon and to battle New Mexico fires such as one the destroyed hundreds of homes in Los Alamos.


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