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Central Fire

Unit Information

Arizona Department of Forestry and Fire Management - State Office
1110 W. Washington Suite 100 Phoenix Arizona 85007
Phoenix, AZ 85007

6-23-20 Virtual Community Meeting - Closed Caption Text

Central Fire Wildfire
Announcements – 6/23/2020

The virtual community meeting video from the evening of June 21, 2020 is posted to Facebook. The direct is https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=941682202946426
This is the transcript below:


June 23, 2020

Bush Fire & Central Fire Virtual Community Meeting

>> MICHELLE FIDLER: Good evening. Thank you for joining us tonight. My name is Michelle Fidler, I'm a Public Information Officer with the Southwest Area Incident Management Team. Tonight we'll be covering updates on the Central and the Bush Fires, we also have representatives from the forest here and our Incident Commander to give us a few updates on the fire. We are monitoring your questions online here on Facebook, we also invite you to send us an e-mail, you can reach us at 2020.bush@firenet.gov. We've been looking at your questions throughout the day and we'll do our best to try to address those here this evening.

Once again, I will just emphasize that Inciweb is our best source of information, that's Inciweb.nwcg.gov and that's where we post all of our fire information updates as well as links to our cooperator information including information about current road closures, what's hope, the recreation access, current evacuation status, 'Ready, Set, Go' information, all of the related information to our fires here.

With that, I will go ahead and introduce our representative our Agency Administrator for this particular incident, so Eric Stemmerman will give us our first update here tonight.

>> ERIC STEMMERMAN: Good evening. Eric Stemmerman, Agency Administrator for the incident. I just wanted to point out that at this phase, what we're really moving into is transitioning, trying to provide access, provide safety for everyone and also coordinating our efforts as we repair. When you're out and about, we still do have firefighters out there, so for your safety and for theirs, just be aware, and if you do have questions, this is a great opportunity. We have people here tonight that can help answer those. And if you have other ones, you can put them forward and we'll answer them later. Thank you.

>> MICHELLE FIDLER: Thanks, Eric. Our next speaker here is Ralph Lucas, he's one of our operations folks with the incident management team to give us an update on both the Bush and the Central Fires.

>> RALPH LUCAS: Thank you, Michelle. Good evening, everyone, thanks for being here and it's great to be back with you to give you information about the two fires that we're under command of. We'll start with the Bush Fire. Everything is going real well on the Bush Fire. Today, up here on the west side of the fire, we were able to open the 87 road, that was significant. We do understand that personal travel and public travel as well as commercial travel is pivotal along that corridor between Payson and Scottsdale. So that is open. The southbound lane is fully open. Northbound lane is down to one lane.

We ask that you respect the speed limits and pay attention while

you're driving. I know it can be a distraction when you're looking up at the fire and seeing what's going on and things like that, but we do have firefighters along the roadways, so your detail and attention to that matter would be much appreciated.

Yeah, this looks really good. We did have a little bit of heat up here on the north end of the fire right as I was leaving to come down to this community meeting, we're putting some helicopters with some water buckets on it and we'll go ahead and extinguish that. We also ran a couple emissions up to Mount Ord today. That is a critical piece of infrastructure up there as it relates to communications and public safety infrastructure, and Mount Ord is doing fine. They were able to service and do maintenance as requested.

Coming down the east corridor, we've got the Jake's Corner, the Pioneer Pass, Brownsville, Tonto Basin area, all of that is looking real good. We're still monitoring that. We did have a little bit of activity poking up in this little area here and I'll explain these green pockets in a moment. But nothing that would be of any danger or concern to the public.

Along the southern perimeter of the fire, the fire continues to gently just back down against the wind, as it kind of creeps through some of the rocks and stuff, and that's of no concern as well. One thing I want to mention to you that in the future, this is a large green what we would call island. Everything in red is what has caught on fire and is now just smoldering. But everything in green is still green vegetation that can be consumed. It's not a concern from a public safety standpoint. It's more of a concern that we want to let you know that you will see glow, you will see smoke, and you may see flames up on the mountain for the next several days to come. But it is no concern as far as public safety.

This is about a 10,000 acre chunk and there's various little chunks around the fire that are continuing to do the same. Moving over to our little friend over here off to the West, that is the Central Fire, it is looking really good. Crews were in there this morning. We had to helicopter crews in, that's how remote it is and one of our crews actually had to spend the night up on the mountain and be supported by helicopter. So they found a little bit of heat in some I can switch. Thank you. So you can see me. I apologize.

So crews were able to get in here, and they did find some heat that was backing down some ridgelines, and so what they did is they called in helicopters as well and helicopters assisted them in kind of cleaning that up. And this fire is doing good, like I said. I'll give you some statistics. The Bush Fire is currently at 186,967 acres. We have seven no, I apologize, 522 people and it is 73 percent contained. On the Central Fire, 4,499 acres, we have 36 percent containment and 104 people on that incident.

Later in the day, some of you have already been asking, there was a new start on the other side of the highway, on the western side of the 17 there, and we are allocating some resources to that incident as we speak. We do not own that fire, our Type 1 Incident Management Team is only in charge of the Bush Fire and the Central Fire at this time. So I just wanted to make that real clear. That's on State lands. But we did assist them in sending over some resources, which is the beauty of having a Type 1 team in the area because our ability to allocate resources as needed is significant, and that's what we've been doing and that's why you see why we took on the Central Fire as well. Thank you.

>> MICHELLE FIDLER: Thanks for that update, Ralph. Next I would like to introduce Matt Lane, he's here from the Tonto National Forest.

>> MATT LANE: Good evening, everyone. My name is Matthew Lane, and I'm the Mesa District Ranger of the Tonto National Forest. I'm here today to talk to you about some of the updates and some of the closures and some of the openings that we've had on the district. So looking at the map, as Ralph said, the 87 road is open all the way through. The 188 road is also open. The State Route 88 or the Apache Trail also opened today, so Saguaro Lake has been opened, it actually opened last Saturday, and Canyon Lake never closed, so it has been opened.

There are a few sites here along the Bush Highway that still need to stay closed until we can assess the public safety risk, and those sites will be Butcher Jones Beach and Pobrecito, we'll be looking at those. And when the B.A.E.R. Team comes back and gives some of their modeling, we'll be able to make decisions on how long they'll be closed and when they'll be opened. Then we have the remainder of the burn area.

So now right now this entire triangle area, the interior, is closed. And we don't know when that's going to be open again. Again, we need to check with the B.A.E.R. Team and see what their modeling says. Really what we want is to ensure that anybody who goes in here is safe and it is going to be closed until we can assure that that public safety is foremost and is going to be preserved. Thanks.

>> MICHELLE FIDLER: Thanks for that. Next I would like to introduce our Incident Commander, Alan Sinclair, to gives some perspective on kind of where we're at with the fire. Actually, you know what, we're going to try to bring in our resource, our B.A.E.R. Team lead. He's working with us remotely, so we've got him on Zoom. So we'll bring him in and we're going to try to get the audio. If there's any issues with it, we'll have an update here as well. All right.

>> Go ahead, mark.

>> Mark: Real quick mic check, can you hear me okay?

>> Go ahead.

>> Mark: Okay. Can you hear me now?

>> Yes. Go ahead.

>> Andy: Okay. Thank you very much for a few minutes to talk to everybody this evening, my name is Andy (?) I'm currently serving as the Burn Area Emergency Response Team lead for the burn area here on the Tonto National Forest. Matt alluded to what we'll be doing here in the future, we'll be doing an emergency assessment of the landscape that was burned by the fire, looking at multiple things, but primarily this time around we'll be looking at risk to human life and safety, property, other critical natural resources and cultural heritage sites.

So this will be a combination of remote sensing, models, and working with our collaborators to take a look at what kind of precip, and we can be expecting to land on the burn scar, looking at what type of sediment delivery we can expect coming off of the burned area and what kind of increased water flow we could be coming off of there, predict coming off the area.

So then we will then be communicating this information not only to the forest, for concerns of public safety as they're recreating and visiting our forests, but also to our cooperators and private landowners, counties and the state to give an idea of what kind of risk there may be to these downstream resources.

As we're moving forward, we will get additional information out there for what can be done to help other resources to assist in these, mitigate these risks and get you into contact with the correct people to get this type of work done. With that, thank you.

>> MICHELLE FIDLER: Thank you. We appreciate the update here tonight. With that, I'm going to go back and introduce our Incident Commander, Alan Sinclair.

>> ALAN SINCLAIR: Good evening. I'm Alan Sinclair with Southwest Area Team Number 1. So things are winding down. We have roads back open, but we do have crews out there working as Ralph alluded to. So please, keep their safety in mind when you're traveling on 188 or 87. When you're looking at the burn scar, it's going to be easy to get sucked into checking that out and not paying attention to driving.

So please ensure that you're paying attention on driving.

Slow and low will be the tempo. And you need to keep that firefighter safety as your number one priority.

With the two fires, there is a lot of the black line now showing, a lot of containment. There was a lot of work done before we got here, and we were able to pick it up where they had left off and make good progress of getting these things into a situation where there's not a concern that they're going to be moving out of their current footprint. So a lot of good work that has been done, and I really appreciate it. I appreciate your patience. This is our fifth day on the fire,

and it seems like we've been here a lot longer. And I'm sure that if you were patiently waiting for roads to get open and to get back into your homes, it probably seemed like a lot longer than that for you.

As Ralph said, we were getting questions about the new fire. We're sending some resources to assist them. It's a State fire under Arizona Department of Forestry and Fire Management. And they are part of the two fires here. They're agency administrators that we work with in the management of these two fires. So pretty easy to help them out. We work really well with them.

With that, I'll turn over to Michelle.

>> MICHELLE FIDLER: Thanks for that, Alan. So we've been checking questions and we did have one question here about hunting. So we have Jeff Sterla, one of our resource advisors to give an update in response to that question.

(Pause).

>> So the question is, I spend a lot of time hunting around Sunflower and Bushnell Tanks, I'm curious to know how the Sycamore trees did during the burn along forest road 22 heading east, they say that creek has a very unique ecosystem which provided a great deal of habitat for quail and coues deer.

>> I have spent some time up there during the duration of the incident, and I can tell you that for the most part, that area of the fire had far less severity than some of the other areas. The Sycamore drainage is a riparian area, and the vegetation in there is a lot higher in moisture and didn't burn like the uplands did. On the hills above it, it remains largely unburned and it fared the best compared to some of the other portions in the area.

So I would say that as far as the quail hatch goes for next year, that really depends on the spring rains. One other thing to mention is that a lot of the Arizona Game & Fish game wardens have been working this incident and these are their districts, so these are excellent resources to reach out to later for more specifics. Thanks.

>> MICHELLE FIDLER: Thanks for that update, Jeff. So with that, I think we have covered, I believe, most of the questions here in our Q & A tonight. It we did not get to your specific question, again, please feel free to gives a call or send us an e-mail or message us here on Facebook. We continue to have public information officers available to answer your questions. At this point, we don't have any additional community meetings planned, but we will continue to update all of our fire information here on Inciweb as well as our incident-specific Facebook you're joining us here tonight.

With that, we want to thank you for joining us, we hope you have a good night, and we hope you reach out if you have any questions we can help you with. Take care.

(The community meeting concluded at 6:18pm)

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