Update: North Rim Prescribed Fires, November 5
Incident: Thompson Prescribed Fire
North Zone Interagency Fire Managers estimate approximately 2,000 acres have been treated since Friday, November 2 on the Thompson prescribed fire (Rx). Fire managers decided to take advantage of favorable conditions and deepen the unit to the south, expanding defensible space between the park and the Kaibab National Forest to aid in protecting threatened and endangered species habitat adjacent to the boundary, including Apache trout and Mexican spotted owl habitat.
As a result, fire managers plan to continue hand and aerial ignitions another one to two days and may treat about 4,000 acres total if favorable conditions persist. Shorter, late fall days with cool temperatures and increased humidity are creating favorable conditions for meeting objectives. Objectives include reducing accumulations of forest fuels, maintaining the natural role of fire in a fire-adapted ecosystem, and protection of sensitive cultural resources.
The Thompson Burn Unit is located along the northern boundary of the park between Highway 67 and the Arizona Trail on the west and the 2000 Outlet Fire area on the east. This burn unit actually extends north of the park boundary to Forest Road 610. As a result, the Thompson Rx is managed jointly by the National Park Service and U.S. Forest Service.
North Zone Interagency Fire Managers completed ignitions on the Range prescribed fire (Rx) unit November 1. Approximately 2,300 acres were treated. This prescribed fire has helped reduce the build-up of dead and down vegetation on the forest floor, reducing the risk of extreme fire behavior along Highway 67, the North Rim's primary egress route, and protecting and enhancing Mexican spotted owl habitat.
Moderate to heavy smoke impacts to Highway 67 are anticipated throughout the Thompson Rx. Daytime visitors should be prepared for poor visibility as well as possible delays and intermittent closures of the entrance road. Overnight closures of the entrance road have occurred the last two nights, with road closures lifted at approximately 9 a.m. the following morning. Drivers are advised to use their headlights, to watch for and obey traffic signs and personnel, and to remain alert to the possibility of fallen trees that have been weakened by fire.
Additional closures of the Arizona Trail have been implemented in association with the Thompson Rx. (The previous closure associated with the Range Rx remains in effect.) The Arizona Trail is closed from Forest Road 610 to the Point Sublime (w1) Road. During daylight hours, public safety officers will continue to check the trail closures approximately once per hour and shuttle hikers to the next available access point as necessary.
The Range Road (also known as the w1a road) remains closed at this time.
Smoke from the Range and Thompson Rx units is visible along Hwy 67 and Hwy 89A as well as from various locations on both the North and South Rims. During the day, smoke is expected to rise as temperatures warm and settle as temperatures cool in the evening. Smoke is also expected to settle into the canyon at night and may also settle in the North Rim development, House Rock Valley, Marble Canyon and Page areas. Smoke impacts have the potential to be heavy in the inner canyon. Smoke will be most visible during ignition operations and will likely gradually diminish after ignitions are completed. It is expected that smoke will continue to be visible until a major rain or snow event occurs.
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