The San Carlos Apache Tribe’s Forest Management has paid off when it comes to the Dry Lake Fire northeast of Bylas, according to information garnered from Dolores Garcia spokesperson for the Central West Zone type 3 Incident Management Team.
“The Dry Lake fire which is in higher elevation, is in ponderosa pine, but those areas have burned before and the tribe has done prescribed fires through those areas so it’s more open, and it has been more [a matter of] beneficial cleansing of the dead and down, the leaf litter and the pine needles. So it hasn’t been too detrimental in most spots but that’s because of the treatment the tribe has been doing up through a lot of that area and previous fires.”
As of June 14, 4,370 acres have burned and is 81 percent contained according to the InciWeb Incident Information System.
The Blue River Fire, (30,400 acres, 85 percent contained) is in lower level grass land, and Garcia thinks that even in badly scorched areas the grass will come back due to winter rains. Still lower areas, if they are burned over, the giant saguaros are apt to suffer since the desert is not “fire-adapted”.
Fire fighters have been on the fire lines working to keep hot spots from developing outside the lines and chipping brush that might light up and allow the fire to spread.
Even contending with shifting winds there has been no significant change in burned acreage, and the Burned Area Emergency Response (BAER) team will soon be working with the Incident Management team to “access burn severity and plan for erosion control ahead of monsoon rains.” Increasing impact by Covid-19 virus on the San Carlos Apache Reservation has complicated the work of the Incident Team fighting what is, according to Garcia, a less complex fire. In a complex fire such as that in the Santa Catalina Mountains near Tucson buildings are involved and evacuation areas must be set up.
The worst on-going impact on San Carlos and even White River may be smoke, which is being monitored by the team in concert with the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality.