USA — Grand Canyon hikers on the North Rim reported seeing smoke from the Saffron Fire today. The fire which was discovered on Saturday, June 26 continues to burn under the careful watch of approximately ninety-nine fire personnel.
The fire is allowed to burn, or in forest-science speak, managed for three objectives: 1. preserving multiple cultural sites in the area, 2. recycling forest nutrients and 3. maintaining the role of fire in a fire-dependent ecosystem.
When the cause of the fire is not man-made, fire officials have more options when managing the fire. They may let the fire burn if doing so meets the objectives of the forest management of the area. On the other hand, if the fire is human-caused, it must be suppressed.
The lightning-caused Saffron Fire is burning in ponderosa pine forest with white fir understory along-side locust and Gambel oak, in an area thats experienced fire several times in the last fifteen years. Located fifteen miles northwest of the North Rim Lodge at the northern end of the Rainbow Plateau, the fire has grown to less than 1300 acres in almost two weeks.
Forest roads 223, 268 and 268B are prepared to act as containment lines if the fire should continue its northeastward progression. Burnout operations (creating an area devoid of fuels to act as a barrier to the fires progress) south of forest road 268 are planned to aid in the fires containment to the north.
If the fire continues its northeastward progression, it may also become necessary to restrict access to Fire Point.
Hikers will find that smoke impact has been light with the smoke dispersing and rising well during the daytime hours. Be aware that an inversion layer of smoke may occur during the nighttime and early morning hours.
North Rim (National Park Service) and North Kaibab Ranger District (US Forest Service) fire managers work together as the North Zone Fire Management Unit. This allows fire managers to share resources and to coordinate fire management activities across the landscape. Cooperating agencies on the Saffron Fire include the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the State of Arizona, and the Bureau of Land Management.