6/29/2013 6:03:00 AM Lightning sparks small wildfires in Prescott region; Doce fire 92 percent contained
Matt Hinshaw/The Daily Courier An Aircrane helicopter drops a load of water on a small wildfire near the Doise Pit Area Friday evening outside of Prescott.
Matt Hinshaw/The Daily Courier
Smoke from a fire burning on Tonto Mountain fills the air Friday evening outside of Prescott.
By LISA IRISH and JOANNA DODDER The Daily Courier
Lightning sparked several wildfires Friday afternoon as the first monsoon clouds floated over Prescott, although some of the callers might have been seeing dust devils.
Firefighters confirmed by 6 p.m. Friday that lightning caused at least two small wildfires, Prescott National Forest Information Officer Debbie Maneely said. One was 3 to 5 acres in size and located west of Spruce Mountain just south of Prescott. Crews were hiking into the fire and two helicopters were dropping water on it. Another small fire was confirmed in the Camp Wood area by the Cross-U Ranch.
Firefighters also were spreading out to search remote areas Friday afternoon in response to calls about smoke in the Doce Pit area, the Woodchute area of Mingus Mountain east of Prescott, Perkinsville Road on the east side of Chino Valley, and near Jerome on private land, Maneely said. Some of the smoke reports came from the public as well as fire lookouts and a Forest Service airplane surveying the area.
"The good thing is, we have the resources still here on the Doce fire so we've got enough resources to respond to all of them," Maneely said. The Prescott Forest hopes to keep some extra resources around through the Fourth of July, she added.
Scattered rains fell in the region Friday afternoon including at least a 10-minute soaking over the southern portion of the Doce fire burned area west of Prescott. A large dust devil formed late Friday afternoon near Doce Pit near the origin of the 6,767-acre wildfire, which ignited on June 18 and was 92 percent contained Friday.
Temperatures hit 103 degrees at the Prescott airport Friday alongside wind gusts of 38 mph and relative humidity up to 30 percent. Record-level heat is forecast to continue through Sunday, with temperatures reaching 103 degrees today and 102 degrees Sunday in Prescott. A slight chance of showers is forecast for Monday and Tuesday.
The Yavapai County Health Department is advising people to keep hydrated, stay out of the sun and stay in an air-conditioned building. If power goes out, the county will publicize cooling station locations and people can call 442-5509.
Firefighters continued rehabilitation and mop-up efforts on the Doce fire Friday, including constructing waterbar, chipping and scattering brush, clearing the fire line of snags and rotten logs, and searching for underground burning roots near the fire line.
At the Central Yavapai Fire District Board meeting on Thursday, a man whose home was threatened by the Doce fire thanked firefighters for their hard work.
"I've been a resident of the Sundown Acres area for 65 years basically, a long, long time," Jim Buchanan said. "Our property was one of the properties that had active fire on it."
"I want to thank the firefighters for their courage and their skill in stopping the fire not only for our home, but for all the homes out there," Buchanan said. "It was miraculous. I thank you and the staff for doing what you do for us."
Fire command warned residents Friday that they might see ash whirls ranging from two to 100 feet tall that look like smoke that are created when cool air pushes down and hot air rises, lifting ash from the ground.
Several Williamson Valley residents called Prescott Fire to report seeing smoke near the base of Granite Mountain at 3:42 p.m. Friday afternoon. The Doce fire burned in that area.
Prescott firefighters investigated the area, determined there was no active fire, and alerted the Prescott National Forest Service that the area residents called about was possibly outside the containment area.
"It sounds like the winds are kicking up some dust and stirring up ash from the Doce fire, and people seeing it from a distance can think it's smoke," Prescott Firefighter Conrad Jackson said.
At 2:42 p.m., Central Yavapai answered a call about a wildland fire from Prescott Valley residents in the 1300 block of Ringtail Drive and found one-tenth of an acre grass fire sparked by a lightning strike that they quickly put out, CYFD Battalion Chief Cougan Carrothers said.
Earlier Friday, Chino Valley firefighters put out a fire along West Road 2 South.
Meanwhile, strong winds from a microburst in Prescott knocked down a 60- to 70-foot pine tree that took out a power line at Curry and Gurley streets, Jackson said.
The Prescott National Forest emergency fire closure and Stage II fire restrictions remain in place, which means no fires are allowed and smoking is allowed only inside buildings or vehicles. All types of fires and flame-producing devices are banned throughout public and private land in Yavapai County, including any kind of fireworks.
Granite Basin Road remains closed to the public because of the Doce fire and can be accessed only by residents with valid identification. For information about the Doce fire, call 777-5682.
Alto Pit and Dosie Pit remain closed. Recreation residences managed under permit by the Prescott National Forest remain closed and a map of closures is available at the Prescott National Forest webpage at: www.fs.usda.gov/prescott.
The human-caused fire remains under investigation. About 89 people are fighting the fire including, two hand crews, five engines, and two helicopters. So far, it has cost $6,628,586 to fight the Doce fire.