16 Jun 2017
Summertime in the West is the time that fires strike quickly due to lightning hits and because of dry conditions tend to spread quickly. This summer is no exception. Several fires that began as lightning strikes have already spread in Arizona and New Mexico.
In Gila County, Arizona, the Highline Fire merged with the Bear Fire on Monday and as such they are now being managed as a single incident. Acres and percent containment are now reported as combined totals. According to infrared flight mapping last night the Highline Fire grew by 308 acres to 1,661 acres and the Bear Fire grew by 75 acres yesterday to 2,591 acres, for a total of 4,258 acres. Combined containment is now at 35 percent for the now combined fire. The cause of the Highline Fire which began on June 10 is still under investigation, but the Bear Fire began with a lightning strike on June 1. Communities in the surrounding area have been evacuated due to forecasted strong down-slope winds between 3 and 6 AM Friday morning.
A lightning strike ignited the Frye Fire in Arizona on June 7, 2017 in the old burn scar of the 2004 Nuttall Complex Fire. The fire is 961 acres in size and is 16% contained. An indirect strategy is being taken to confine and contain the fire within the previous burn scar, to provide firefighter safety from the numerous snags, rough terrain and numerous downed logs. Firefighters are monitoring fire behavior and growth and will take appropriate action if fire threatens any values.
In New Mexico within the Gila National Forest several fires are burning. Summer storms with heat lightning are big contributors to forest fires. The strikes hit the ground. Detritus leftover from the autumn is now brittle, dry and thick. The underbrush ignites almost immediately and a wildfire ensues. The Gravel Fire is currently 1,100 acres and was started on June 9 with a lightning strike. The Teacher Fire is 325 acres and began on June 7 with a lightning strike. The Straw Fire is currently at 2,500 acres and began on June 9 also with a lightning strike. The Corral Fire which began on June 4 and is currently 5,550 acres in size. The Round Fire wildfire began on June 6 with a lighting strike as well. It is now currently 3,652 acres in size. The weather forecast does not favor firefighters as continued hot and dry conditions are expected for the week ahead with breezing conditions added to the mix.
NASA's Aqua satellite collected this natural-color image with the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer, MODIS, instrument on June 15, 2017. Actively burning areas, detected by MODIS’s thermal bands, are outlined in red. NASA image courtesy Jeff Schmaltz LANCE/EOSDIS MODIS Rapid Response Team, GSFC. Caption by Lynn Jenner with information from Inciweb.