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10/6/2009 3:40:00 PM
Future of controlled burns up in the air
Open meeting on fire to be held tomorrow
Photo/Ann Wells
Smoke blankets the base of Bill Williams Mountain.

Photo/Ann Wells
Smoke blankets the base of Bill Williams Mountain.

Patrick Whitehurst
Associate Grand Canyon News Editor

WILLIAMS - Forest Service officials, recovering from last week's Twin Fire, said there are currently no plans to continue prescribed burns in the Williams area. A review team is expected to arrive Thursday to review documentation and other aspects leading up to the fire. As of press time, no further prescribed burns on the Williams Ranger District are planned.

According to Punky Moore, fire information officer for the Williams Ranger District, a Prescribed Burn Review Team will arrive in Williams tomorrow.

"The process is that we go through a review and that is pretty standard in a situation like this. Whatever comes out of that review we need to take into consideration, as the process moves forward. It will be a learning process, but the fire program will continue," Moore said. "We do not have any plans to burn until we are finished with this incident. The City Council and the Williams Ranger District will host a community meeting tomorrow from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at the Williams Elementary-Middle School auditorium."

Anyone who would like to hear more information on the Twin Fire is welcome to attend the meeting, Moore said.

Moore said the burn team is expected to complete their review by the end of the weekend.

The Twin Fire began as a controlled burn Oct. 1 and was intended to include the Twin Hat Tank and Twin South Hat units. The Hat Tank area is located roughly three miles southwest of the Williams city limits. The South Hat unit is located roughly six miles southwest of Williams near the junction of Forest Roads 108 and 122. Additional burns, originally scheduled for last week, were cancelled due to wind concerns.

Moore said the planned Oct. 1 prescribed fire included communication with the Weather Service and the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality

"Our regular process is that you put in your request to burn the day before," Moore said. "We received approval. The forecast was favorable for the burn. The northeast winds would have kept the smoke away from Williams. As we continued through the day the winds started shifting, we started getting them from three different directions. That was not in the forecast."

Later spot fires began.

"We were able to contain those spots," Moore said. By the next day a few more spots began, which quickly went out of control. "It was spotting fast enough that we could not get them contained. At about 1 p.m. on the afternoon of Oct. 2 - that was when it was declared a wildfire."

Despite reports to the contrary, Moore said resources were not ordered specifically from California.

"What you do is you put orders in the system," she said. "Those happened to be the closest system that day. There was a lag time in that timeframe, from when we put in the orders and started seeing air crafts this way."

For more information, contact Moore at (928) 635-5653.

Related Stories:
• Twin Fire 90 percent contained
• Video: Twin Fire smoke causes high school evacuation
• Gallery: Twin Fire
• Twin Fire held at 921 acres

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Reader Comments

Posted: Friday, October 9, 2009
Article comment by: Medic Rick

To the writer who rants about prescribed burn smoke. This smoke is only here for a very few days each fall. Wood smoke from fire places is here each and every day of each winter. The inversion layer banks that smoke down on us every cool morning. Is your answer to that to make fireplaces illegal too? It is the SAME wood smoke. Before hanging the USFS out to dry for a few days of localized smoke, think about the months of smoke we are exposed to every winter morning. Now, I am not in any way supporting burn bans for fireplaces OR prescribed burns. I am only trying to point out the bigger picture. This seems more like an attack on the USFS than about the health of our citizens.

Posted: Friday, October 9, 2009
Article comment by: Barbara Herman

Let me summarize here... It's OK to pollute the town with smoke from a fire set by the Forest SERVICE, but smoke from a cigarette is against the law.

Posted: Thursday, October 8, 2009
Article comment by: No name provided

If it would have been a camper the bill would be theirs...who is responsible for this one? We were planning for a year to hunt in this area and now the animals are probably out of their habitat and more than was supposed to be burned is gone.

Posted: Thursday, October 8, 2009

THEY SHOULD STOP ALL PRESCRIBED BURNS. Prescribed burns are deadly to children and elderly. The smoke emitted from prescribed burns and managed wildfires is unfiltered wood smoke that is extremely dangerous to unborn fetuses, infant children and elderly people. Wood smoke pollution is 12 times more carcinogenic than cigarette smoke, attacks the body cells up to 40 times longer, and kills at least 40,000 adults and children every year. We know that when prescribed burns increase, smoke particle levels go up, people die with children and the elderly being the most vulnerable. Exposure to prescribed burn smoke increase children’s risk of lower respiratory infections such as bronchitis, pneumonia, and has been linked to psychological disorders and toxic damage to the nervous system and the brain in developing fetuses and young children. The smoke particles are so tiny that they go deep into the lungs causing structural damage and chemical changes to the child's lung tissue. The tiny particles then pass through the lungs into the blood stream entering the child's systemic circulation causing illness and premature death. Studies show that wood smoke exposure can prevent the proper development of an unborn fetus, prevent the proper development of internal organs in infant children, depress the immune system, damage the nervous system, damage the brain, damage the layer of cells in the child's lungs that protect and cleanse the airways, and cause early childhood death. For more info, visit

Posted: Wednesday, October 7, 2009
Article comment by: Smoky Bear

Whoever OKed this burn should be fired and made to pay the cost of fighting this fire. It's fortunate that no one died while fighting this fire or that peoples homes weren't destroyed, much less the whole town. The Forest Service itself should be completely overhauled and replaced with people who have some common sense. Even the weatherman on the news made a comment before the fire that the winds were going to blow on the day it was scheduled to start and that it was a not a very good idea. This person should be charged with Arson and foot the bill...period!

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