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Fri, Dec. 13

Leupp fire managed for resource benefits

A firefighter watches a tree burn on the Maroon Fire near Leupp May 27. (Photo/Coconino National Forest)

A firefighter watches a tree burn on the Maroon Fire near Leupp May 27. (Photo/Coconino National Forest)

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. — Fire managers with the Coconino National Forest are making use of a lightning-caused fire to benefit the landscape and maintain a healthy ecosystem by allowing the fire to fulfill its natural role and consume forest debris.

The 26-acre Maroon Fire is approximately 3 miles north of Leupp Road and 7 miles east of U.S. Highway 89 in an area consisting of cinders, pine, juniper, grass and brush

The area includes a World War II artillery training area with unexploded ordnance (UXO) surrounding Maroon Crater, as well as public utilities infrastructure and homes several miles northeast of the fire.

Allowing the fire to move across the landscape and consume forest fuels will help protect vital infrastructure and homes in the area from severe wildfires.

Additionally, the wildfire may benefit a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers operation planned for next year to remove UXO on Maroon Crater by burning grasses and forest fuels, exposing ordnance that would have otherwise not been visible.

Firefighter safety is a priority, so firefighters will not be entering a 565-acre area of Maroon Crater that contains UXO.

This fire, as with any wildfire, does not have a planned end date, but firefighters are restricting fire activity to a 14,700-acre planning area where the fire may run its natural course. This does not mean the fire will move across the entire planning area, as specific edges of a fire may be suppressed to protect public safety, private property, cultural sites, major transmission power lines, trailheads, dispersed camping sites, and more.

Precipitation may extinguish the Maroon Fire at any time, which would bring the fire to a conclusion.

On May 28, firefighting crews began burnout operations as warmer, drier temperatures and lighter winds are forecast for the upcoming week.

Crews will begin conducting hand ignitions along Forest Service roads, which will allow firefighters to strengthen control lines and promote a low-intensity backing fire. Firing operations may continue throughout the week as weather conditions allow.

Residents near Moon Crater are expected to see an increase in smoke output as well as visible flames from hand ignitions as firing operations commence. Smoke is predicted to move northeast and may be visible from the community of Leupp and travelers on Leupp road.

Forest Service roads may be temporarily closed for firefighter and public safety while burning operations are being conducted. Residents and visitors in the area will be notified and redirected when hand ignitions are being conducted along the roads.

More information is available at http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/.

Information provided by Coconino National Forest

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