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home : latest news : latest news April 28, 2016

6/20/2013 9:50:00 AM
Firefighters 'holding their own' on Doce
Matt Hinshaw/The Daily Courier
The Doce Fire burns on Granite Mountain, as seen from Highway 89 south of Outer Loop Road Wednesday evening.
Matt Hinshaw/The Daily Courier
The Doce Fire burns on Granite Mountain, as seen from Highway 89 south of Outer Loop Road Wednesday evening.
Courtesy photo
This is a map of the Doce fire as of this morning. Click here to enlarge (new window).
Courtesy photo
This is a map of the Doce fire as of this morning. Click here to enlarge (new window).
Joanna Dodder Nellans
Special to the Review

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."

At 10 p.m. Wednesday, fire officials estimated the size of the fire to be 7,500 acres, adding that overnight infrared mapping flights would yield a more precise size by morning.

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.

Related Stories:
• Doce Fire at 6,379 acres
• Air quality becoming dangerous in Chino Valley area
• Doce fire now at 7,000 acres
• Residents evacuating Williamson Valley near Granite Mountain

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