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Prescott e-News

Doce Wildfire

 

 


Signs, from hand-scrawled cardboard ones to digital billboards in Frontier Village, have begun to appear in the Prescott community thanking those involved in fighting the Doce Fire.

With the 6,800 acre Doce fire estimated at 50 percent containment, and full containment expected Wednesday, talk shifted more to clean up than containment during a Sunday evening community meeting. Concerns also shifted from fire to flooding.

Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office Captain Jeff Newnum announced lifts for the last of the evacuated neighborhoods during the June 23 evening meeting.

“Effectively immediately we are reopening Granite Basin Summer Home area, Camp Anytime and the Blackjack residential area,” Newnum said. “We have checkpoints at each of the residential areas along Williamson Valley, like American Acres, Sundown Acres, Mint Creek. All those checkpoints have now been lifted.

More than 50 people came out for the meeting at Prescott High School. Those in attendance included residents, law enforcement, researchers and television camera crews.

Incident Commander Tony Sciacca said 660 firefighters and other personnel currently remain on the fire lines. That number is expected to drop to around 100 by Wednesday.

“I’m expecting 100 percent containment June 26,” Sciacca said.

Yavapai County District 4 Supervisor Craig Brown thanked the incident command team for their efforts in getting a handle on the fire, particularly when it came to saving homes from destruction.

“They got it stopped. No houses, no lives lost, no injuries. We cannot thank them enough,” Brown said.

Following the fire, concerns now shift to flood mitigation, particularly with monsoon season approaching, he said. In areas affected by the Doce Fire, loss of vegetation could lead to flash flood concerns in the Granite Mountain area.

Denny Foulk, with Yavapai County Emergency Management, said assessments will soon be under way for post-fire flood mitigation.

“We believe the potential for flood impacts is going to be large,” Foulk said. He urged all residents living in the affected areas to consider flood insurance for their homes and properties.

“I would like to remind everyone to be prepared,” Foulk said. “Keep drainages clear and cleaned out.”

Valerie Meyers, with the National Weather Service in Phoenix and incident meteorologist for the Doce fire incident team, said monsoon storms could begin in the coming weeks. With the monsoons, she said, comes the threat of flash floods in burn areas. Prior to the start of monsoons, however, hot and dry conditions will remain, she said.

“There are some concerns about what’s going to happen here for the next couple days,” she said. “We still have very hot and dry conditions. There is a red flag warning that has been posted for the Doce burn area through tomorrow.”

That weather pattern may change by the end of the week, with high pressure expected to begin by Tuesday, Meyers said.

“By the weekend we’re looking at a good chance of isolated thunderstorms,” Meyers said.

On Sunday, fire crews continued work to rehabilitate fire lines around the Doce Fire. Crews dumped water and foam above Granite Basin Lake to stop the flames from backing down the side of the hill. Boulders and natural rock features have slowed the fire in some location on Granite Mountain, officials said.

To date, the fire is estimated to have cost more than $5 million.


The Doce fire burning near the Granite Mountain Wilderness is still at zero percent containment and has burned 7,000 acres so far.

Today, a U.S. Forest Service Type I management team will arrive and take charge of operations.

There are three Type I (heavy) air tankers, four helicopters, 16 crews, and 27 engines either already on-scene or ordered to fight the fire.

The fire was active overnight on the northeast corner near the Williamson Valley corridor and on the southwest near the Granite Mountain Wilderness, according to Yavapai County spokesman David McAtee. No homes have been lost and no one has been injured.

The fire crews plan more air tanker and helicopter slurry drops for Wednesday, assuming the weather allows them to fly.

Neighborhoods currently evacuated include -Anytime Camp, American Ranch, Granite Basin Summer Homes, Rialto Homes Sundown Acres, and Mint Creek. Surrounding areas are on alert for possible evacuation. Evacuees can go to Yavapai College; Livestock is being held at the Prescott Rodeo Grounds.

Williamson Valley Road is closed to through traffic in the area of the fire.

The county Health Department said air quality is not yet a problem. “As long as you can still see things that are five to 10 miles away, you can be reasonably sure you won’t have a medical emergency caused by smoke inhalation,” McAtee said. Still, he added, it’s a good idea to check on elderly neighbor, those who live alone, or have heart or lung disease.

An 11 a.m. press briefing is scheduled.


 

 

Firefighters will face a tough battle today against the Doce wildfire because of red-flag weather conditions.

“It’s going to definitely create a containment issue for us,” said Tony Sciacca, incident commander for the national Type I team that took over the firefight today. He’s a former Prescott National Forest fire manager who now runs the Arizona Wildfire Academy here.

Sciacca was a hotshot fighting the 850-acre Doce fire in June 1990 that also ran up Granite Mountain, but back then the fire got hung up on the rocks on the south-facing slope of the prominent mountain just west of Prescott.

This time around, the fire grew to more than 5,000 acres the first day Tuesday, backing down the east side of Granite Mountain to the backyards of some homes in the American Ranch subdivision by Tuesday night.

“I did not anticipate it would run over the top of the mountain the way it did,” Sciacca said after an 11 a.m. media briefing today.

Despite the large boulders covering the rugged mountain, there was enough chaparral between the boulders to carry the fire down the mountain.

Both fires ignited near the Doce Pit, a popular target shooting area just south of Iron Springs Road and southwest of Granite Mountain.

The National Weather Service issued a red-flag warning through 7 p.m. today because of low humidity and winds around 23 mph that could gust to 36 mph. So the fire has the potential to grow even faster today because of the potential for stronger winds.

The fire size estimate this morning was about 7,000 acres with zero containment, although firefighters have set up a safe anchor on the heel of the blaze to work forward safely.

No homes have burned and no people or livestock have been reported injured, Sciacca said.

Sciacca said 460 homes were evacuated Tuesday in the Granite Basin and Williamson Valley areas, including the subdivisions of American Ranch, Sundown Acres and southern Mint Creek Ranch.

More people could be evacuated in the Williamson Valley Road corridor, but Sciacca declined to be more specific until he gets more information early this afternoon.

The fire team has set up its headquarters at Prescott High School, so most summer school programs there are moving to Mile High Middle School. Officials are asking people not to come to the high school although they can call.

Fire officials plan to conduct an informal discussion at 6 p.m. today with evacuees at the Red Cross shelter at Yavapai College.

Later today, they hope to set up a time and location for a broader community meeting that will take place Thursday evening. Watch dcourier.com for updates. Information for the public also is available on the county’s Emergency Management Division website at regionalinfo-alert.org.

Evacuated residents who want to connect with loved ones can register through the Red Cross Safe and Well website at safeandwell.org. For donations or other information call 800-RedCross.

Approximately 600 firefighters with air support should be working the fire today, Sciacca said.

The blaze is burning in light fuels in steep, rocky conditions on Granite Mountain, as well as the flatter Williamson Valley.

“We’re trying to bring the fire down to the flats so it’s not putting firefighters in harm’s way,” Sciacca said. “It’s very flashy fuel, a high risk to firefighters… the fire moves very quickly.”


Firefighters ‘holding their own’ on Doce

The bad news: the forecast for the Summer Solstice on Thursday is calling for possibly stronger winds on the Doce fire than Wednesday’s red flag conditions, strong enough that air support could be grounded.

The good news: so far no buildings have burned and no people have been hurt.

“The bottom line is, we’re holding our own,” fire Incident Commander Tony Sciacca said during a Wednesday afternoon media briefing.

The fire just west of Prescott remains at zero containment.

Authorities evacuated 460 homes in the Granite Basin and Williamson Valley areas Tuesday, including the subdivisions of American Ranch, Sundown Acres and southern Mint Creek Ranch.

Others along the Williamson Valley Road corridor are asked to be on the alert for future evacuations, but Sciacca couldn’t be more specific. He said media will be notified of any calls for more evacuations.

No more residents are in imminent danger of evacuation, he said.

The fire burned right into the backyards of some American Ranch subdivision homes overnight, but firefighters saved the homes with hose lays, aerial retardant and aerial water drops, Sciacca said.

Flames are about a half-mile from homes now, Sciacca said Wednesday afternoon.

The blaze continues to burn to the northeast on Granite Mountain and below.

The fire ignited Tuesday near Doce Pit, a popular target-shooting area just south of Iron Springs Road and southwest of Granite Mountain. Officials said it’s human-caused and under investigation.

Sciacca had a message for the current evacuees on the second day of the fire.

“Please be patient with us,” he said. “It’s not going to be over tomorrow or the next day.”

He noted that he also is a Prescott resident, for more than three decades. Sciacca is a retired Prescott Forest fire manager and coordinator of the Arizona Wildfire Academy.

Sciacca was a hotshot fighting the 850-acre Doce fire in June 1990 that also ignited near Doce Pit and ran up Granite Mountain, but back then the fire got hung up on the rocks on the south-facing slope of the prominent mountain just west of Prescott.

This time around, the fire grew to more than 5,000 acres the first day Tuesday, backing down the east side of Granite Mountain.

“I did not anticipate it would run over the top of the mountain the way it did,” Sciacca said.

Despite the large boulders covering the rugged mountain, there was enough chaparral between the boulders to carry the fire down the mountain.

“We’re trying to bring the fire down to the flats so it’s not putting firefighters in harm’s way,” Sciacca said. “It’s very flashy fuel, a high risk to firefighters… the fire moves very quickly.”

Fire managers had no updates on the size of the fire since the first few hours of Wednesday, when an overflight estimated it at 5,088 acres, smaller than an earlier rough estimate of 7,000 acres. But it likely grew on Wednesday.

They planned to conduct burnouts during the dark hours of Wednesday night and Thursday morning, by cutting line and then burning vegetation between the line and the fire to rob it of more fuel.

One burnout will take place on the west flank of Granite Mountain, while another might take place on the east flank.

“It’s a two-pronged flanking action to pinch it off at the head,” Sciacca said. Firefighters on each side will try to move north and meet each other, possibly in the Mint Wash area.

More than 670 firefighters are on the ground, with five heavy air tankers and five large helicopters in the air.

The DC-10 VLATs (Very Large Air Tankers) have been highly effective, Sciacca said. They can carry 7,000 gallons of retardant, about twice what other heavy air tankers carry. The Forest Service currently has only two on contract, and both are fighting the Doce fire.


UPDATE 2:45 P.M.

Air quality becoming dangerous in Chino Valley area

The Yavapai County Community Health Services department is announcing that smoke from the Doce fire has caused air quality in Chino Valley to reach dangerous levels.

Rules of thumb still apply. If things that are five to 10 miles away are still visible, people can be reasonably sure that smoke inhalation will not cause a medical emergency.

The health department is monitoring local conditions and will send out alerts as needed. Anyone who feels faint or sick should immediately contact a doctor.

More air quality information is available at www.azdeq.gov.

Some tips for avoiding smoke:

• Stay inside with the windows closed and your AC on. If you don’t have AC go to a local mall or store that has AC.

• Avoid tobacco smoke, kerosene heaters, frying or boiling foods and vacuuming.

• Avoid exercising outdoors.


DOCE FIRE UPDATE 9AM

HERE’S THE LATEST UPDATE ON THE DOSIE FIRE. PRESCOTT NATIONAL
FOREST OFFICIALS ESTIMATE THE SIZE OF THE FIRE AT 6,379 ACRES
BASED ON INFARED MEASUREMENTS TAKEN FROM THE AIR. THE FIRE
WAS PREVIOUSLY REPORTED TO BE ABOUT 7,500 ACRES. IT IS STILL
SHOWING ZERO CONTAINMENT. SOME 614 PERSONNEL ARE INVOLVED
IN FIGHTING THE FIRE AT A COST ESTIMATED TO BE AROUND A MILLION
DOLLARS SO FAR. MOST OF THAT COST IS DUE TO THE USE OF LARGE
AIRPLANES DROPPING RETARDANT IN AND AROUND THE FIRE.
A COMMUNITY MEETING HAS BEEN CALLED FOR 6 O’CLOCK TONIGHT
AT THE RUTH STREET THEATRE BY PRESCOTT HIGH SCHOOL.
REPRESENTATIVES OF PRESCOTT NATIONAL FOREST AND THE INCIDENT
MANAGEMENT TEAM ARE EXPECTED TO PROVIDE MORE DETAILS ON THE
DOSIE FIRE FIGHTING EFFORT.


Brewer emergency declaration
ADD GOVERNOR JAN BREWER’S OFFICE TO THE LIST OF GOVERNMENT AGENCIES HELPING TO FIGHT THE DOSIE FIRE IN PRESCOTT. THE GOVERNOR TODAY SIGNED AN EMERGENCY DECLARATION MAKING AVAILABLE $100,000 DOLLARS FROM THE GOVERNOR’S EMERGENCY FUND TO SUPPORT RESPONSE AND RECOVERY EFFORTS ASSOCIATED WITH THE FIRE. THE GOVERNOR’S OFFICE IS QUCIK TO POINT OUT THAT THESE FUNDS ARE NOT AVAILABLE TO REIMBURSE HOMEOWNERS FOR ANY POTENTIAL DAMAGE TO THEIR HOMES OR FOR EVACUATION COSTS. THE DECLARATION ALSO AUTHORIZES THE ARIZONA NATIONAL GUARD TO MOBILIZE AS NECESSARY TO PROTECT LIFE AND PROPERTY.


In an 8 a.m. update, the U.S. Forest Service revised the size of the Doce Fire to 6,379 acres, down from Wednesday night’s estimate of 7,500 acres.

The fire broke out Tuesday morning near the Doce Pit area along Iron Springs Road. At this point, 614 personnel are fighting the fire, along with 27 engines, 11 water tenders, 1 dozer, at least four heavy tankers and four helicopters.

The cost of fighting the fire thus far has reached an estimated $1 million, primarily due to the aviation units in use. The forest service has employed as many as four air tankers.

A community meeting is planned for tonight starting at 6:00 pm at the Ruth Street Theatre located in the Prescott High School’s auditorium. Parking will be directed to the south parking lot and adjacent lots across the street. The incident management team and representatives from the Prescott National Forest will provide detailed information and answer questions about the fire’s status and ongoing suppression efforts.

Today, crews will focus suppression efforts on both the east and west flanks of the fire, constructing dozer and hand line directly up against or at a safe distance from the fire’s edge. Burnout operations to reinforce the effectiveness of the constructed lines may also occur as conditions allow. Firefighters are assessing structure protection needs in all evacuated subdivisions, constructing indirect fireline and installing sprinklers as needed.

The areas of Granite Basin Homes, Black Jack, Camp Anytown, Sundown Acres, Cielo Grande, Old Stage Acres, south half of Mint Creek Wash and American Ranch remain evacuated. Neighborhoods in the Williamson Valley corridor are on notice for potential evacuation.

Iron Springs Road south of the fire between the intersection with Williamson Valley Road and Conteras Road is closed to the public. Williamson Valley Road east of the fire between Pioneer Parkway and Outer Loop Road is also closed to the public. Residents from neighborhoods north of the intersection of Williamson Valley and Outer Loop Road should plan additional travel around the road closure areas.

The entire area of the Doce Fire is closed to public access. The closure area can be viewed at the Prescott National Forest webpage at: www.fs.usda.gov/prescott.

Anyone seeing suspicious activity related to the Doce Fire is asked to contact Forest Service Law Enforcement and Investigations at 928-527-3508 or 3509.


firemap

As of 8 a.m this morning, containment of the Doce fire remained at 10 percent, with 6,732 acres burned.

Prescott National Forest has closed the area around the fire. A map of the closed area is posted on the Prescott National Forest website at www.fs.usda.gov/prescott .

Evacuations were ordered yesterday in the area east of Mint Creek: South of Stazenski Road, and the corner of River Bend Trail and Mint Valley Road. Previous evacuations remain unchanged, including the areas of Granite Basin Homes, Black Jack, Camp Anytown, Sundown Acres, Cielo Grande, Old Stage Acres, south half of Mint Creek Wash and American Ranch remain evacuated.

Fighting the fire has cost about $2.24 million, primarily due to the aviation assets in use. The heavy air tankers were reassigned yesterday to a fire in New Mexico. Four helicopters remain available to fight the Doce fire.

Iron Springs Road is now open. Williamson Valley Road between Pioneer Parkway and Outer Loop Road remains closed.

Century Link has a forwarding service for their landline customers who are evacuated. They can call 800-573-1311 to request their home phone be forwarded to another (cell) number.

Firefighters are making good progress around the entire fire, constructing line directly up against or at a safe distance from the fire’s edge. Crews have secured the heel of the fire on the southwestern edge and have established dozer line on the north and northwestern flank. Last night, crews conducted burnout operations help keep fire behavior from becoming established in ridges that align with the winds.

Today, firefighters will continue structure protection in all evacuated subdivisions, continue line construction, and prepping lines for burnout operations.

Today will be hot dry, and windy again. Crews are anticipating fire behavior to increase in the afternoon.