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Thu, April 15

Ponderosa Fire battles wildland blaze in Parks

Firefighters and residents observe the aftermath of a 1.8 acre grass fire in Parks April 19. (Ponderosa Fire Dept.)

Firefighters and residents observe the aftermath of a 1.8 acre grass fire in Parks April 19. (Ponderosa Fire Dept.)

What homeowners can do

According to the USFS Homeowner’s Firewise Guide, residents can protect their homes with several simple steps:

  1. Remove standing dead and downed trees and shrubs from the property.

  2. Remove dead leaves, branches, twigs and needles attached to living trees to a height of 15 feet.

  3. Remove debris from roof and rain gutters.

  4. Remove dried out and “cured” grasses and wildflowers to fewer than eight inches.

  5. Reduce layers of pine needles, leaves, twigs and cones to a depth of three inches.

  6. Relocate firewood and other combustible debris such as wood scraps, grass clippings, leaf and compost piles at least 30 feet uphill from structures.

To report a wildland fire or smoke, parties are advised to dial 911 or contact Williams Dispatch Center at (928) 635-2601.

Homeowners in the Mountain View Acres and Forrest Ranch subdivisions north of Parks were on high alert April 19 when a quick moving wildfire spread through the area and came within feet of neighborhood homes.

At approximately 1:20 p.m., firefighters from Ponderosa Fire District, Kaibab National Forest and Camp Navajo Fire Department responded to several 911 calls of a grassland fire near E. Wild Bill Road and N. Humphries Streets in Parks. Upon arrival, firefighters found a quick moving fire spreading through dense, dry grass in the yards of homes.

According to Ponderosa Fire District Chief Lee Antonides, firefighters were able to control the fire within 20 minutes of arrival despite strong winds.

The National Weather Service in Bellemont reported peak wind gusts of 49 mph in Williams and 58 mph in Flagstaff the afternoon of the fire.

“It covered quite a bit of acreage,” Antonides said about the rate of the fire spread. “We were fortunate it was held pretty much by the road system in the area.”

Antonides said the fire swept through clumped grasses and burned to within several feet of a nearby home.

“It did get up underneath the deck of the house, but we kept it from catching the deck on fire or any portion of the home,” he said.

Antonides said the owners were not home at the time of the fire.

Ponderosa Fire District was quickly joined by U.S. Forest Service firefighters who were training nearby. Other responding units included Coconino County Sheriff’s Office, Camp Navajo Fire Department and Guardian Medical Transport.

“They saw the smoke and started (responded) about the same time we got dispatched,” he said.

Despite strong winds, firefighters were able to contain the fire at 1.8 acres.

“It was in the corner of four different lots where it started,” Antonides said. “Then it spread primarily into one.”

No structures burned, however a UTV was deemed a total loss.

Antonides said the cause of the fire is undetermined.

“With these strong winds and dry weather, we would like to remind everyone that these fires spread fast and can be prevented,” Ponderosa Fire District posted on Facebook after the fire.

Antonides said the department is preparing for a busy fire season and has already sent firefighters to assist with the Rattlesnake Fire near Alpine.

“It’s going to be an interesting year,” Antonides said about the fire season.

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