SILVER CITY – Thunderstorms across much of the Gila National Forest produced significant lightning with just isolated areas receiving appreciable rainfall. Firefighters were kept busy responding to 22 new fire starts.
Fire is a natural part of the ecosystem and each new start represents an opportunity to restore or maintain natural conditions, removing hazardous fuels and reducing the potential of future catastrophic wildfires.
While all fires are actively managed not all are immediately suppressed. Fire managers assess each new start and develop a management strategy for each fire. Strategies are developed considering values that are identified as important. Values can include both man made and ecological values.
Of the 22 starts there is a mix of different strategies implemented. Values at risk, location, topography, vegetation and fuels, and projected weather are all considerations that fire managers factor into the strategic decision. Even those fires in monitor status are assessed systematically to insure conditions warrant that strategy be continued.
While most of the fires over the past two days were suppressed while they were small, two fires reached some size. The Sundial Fire located a couple miles west of Hwy 180 approximately 6 miles south of Glenwood grew to approximately 20 acres. The Stitzel Fire is 8 miles north of San Lorenzo and grew to 50 acres in size. Both Stitzel and Sundial fires are staffed and being managed for multiple objectives.
Weather forecasts for the next couple of days call for isolated to scattered thunderstorms which may be accompanied by dry lightning. Increasing moist air is expected by Sunday with slightly cooler temperatures and the development of more thunderstorms forecasted. There are increasing chances of wetting rains in the forecast.
With the continued thunderstorms predicted fire officials are anticipating that through the weekend and into next week additional new starts similar to the last two days will keep fire fighters busy.