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KNAU and Arizona News

Wildfire morning update, 06/22/22: Pipeline 70%, Haywire 50% contained, BAER team starts burn assessments, Biden admin addresses firefighter shortage with temporary pay hikes

Pipeline Fire
Melissa Sevigny/KNAU
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PIPELINE FIRE BAER TEAM

A Burned Area Emergency Response, or BAER team, began surveying the Pipeline Fire Tuesday, June 21st.

BAER team assessments are rapid evaluations of post-fire conditions of the burned landscape to determine the level of risk from potential flooding and debris flow that could impact human life, safety, property, and critical natural and cultural resources.

If unacceptable risks are found the team recommends appropriate and effective emergency stabilization measures to reduce the risks to National Forest land.

Teams conduct field surveys and use science-based models to rapidly evaluate and assess the burned area.

BAER is an emergency program for stabilization work that involves time-critical activities to be completed before the first damaging storm event to meet program objectives.

PIPELINE FIRE UPDATE

Containment continues to increase on the 26,000 acre Pipeline Fire burning north of Flagstaff on the San Francisco Peaks. Officials with the Coconino National Forest say crews have 70% containment of the blaze at just over 26,000 acres and are now focusing on suppression repair and minimizing potential soil erosion resulting from firefighting efforts.
These operations are aimed at mitigating impacts to predicted incoming precipitation.

In containment areas, suppression repair will take place on constructed dozer lines, as well as roads and trails that were used as fireline, mainly at the southern edge of the Pipeline Fire near the Timberline community and the northern edge that runs from the Strawberry Crater area.

Some heat and smoke are still happening within the fire perimeter. Firefighter and aviation resources continue to assess and extinguish where possible.

An initial attack group remains ready to quickly respond to any spotting over the line or new starts caused by the incoming thunderstorms.

HAYWIRE FIRE UPDATE

The Haywire Fire burning in the vicinity of the Pipeline Fire is now 50% contained at about 5,600 acres.

Fire managers say minimal heat is detected across the fire and favorable conditions have led to more containment in the northwestern perimeter of the fire.

Crews will continue to monitor and patrol containment lines and look for hotspots within the fire’s interior.

Highway 89 is now open. An area closure is in place on the Coconino National Forest for the Pipeline Fire. A map of closures can be found at www.fs.usda.gov/coconino.

Much of the Coconino National Forest in the burn areas is under a temporary closure. Stage 2 Fire Restrictions remain in effect on the forest. Stage 3 Fire Restrictions are in effect for Coconino County and the city of Flagstaff. www.bit.ly/Pipeline-Haywire-Evacs

CONTRERAS FIRE UPDATE

Authorities say a lightning-caused wildfire that led to evacuation on the Tohono O’odham Nation and the Kitt Peak National Observatory near Tucson is now 50% contained.

Nearly 440 firefighters are working the wildfire that has so far charred 38 square miles and burned several observatory buildings since it began June 11.

Fire officials hope to gain full containment by Sunday evening with monsoon rain expected this week. However, lightning could spark other fires and intense rain could cause flooding in the burn area, as is the case with fires burning across the state.

NATIONWIDE FIREFIGHTER SHORTAGE

Firefighter advocacy groups are applauding steps taken by the Biden administration this week to temporarily raise wages for crews on the front lines of the nation’s largest wildfires. But they say the temporary wage hikes won’t be enough to combat staffing problems, as federal agencies compete with local fire departments and a tight labor market.

The National Interagency Fire Center has grown less able to fill crew mobilization orders as climate change makes the U.S. West hotter, drier and more prone to wildfires.

Labor experts, firefighter advocates and federal officials say the land management agencies that employ federal firefighters must do more to keep pace and compete with other fire departments and industries.

WIDESPREAD MONSOON ACTIVITY

Widespread thunderstorms are expected across the region today. Monsoon activity is in the forecast daily through the weekend.

Mostly cloudy Wednesday with hot temperatures; highs reaching 78 in Flagstaff, 83 for Strawberry and the Hopi Mesas, 87 for Prescott and Chino Valley, 90 for Tuba City and Payson and 94 for Page and Sedona.