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Trusted local news leader for Prescott area communities since 1882
2:10 PM Tue, Dec. 18th

Hazy skies result of Coconino fires

Smoke settling in low-level areas

An aerial view of the Rhino Fire, which is burning about six miles northwest of Sedona in Red Rock Secret Mountain Wilderness.

Coconino National Forest/Courtesy

An aerial view of the Rhino Fire, which is burning about six miles northwest of Sedona in Red Rock Secret Mountain Wilderness.

Winds have dragged smoke from several lighting-started fires in the Coconino National Forest into the greater Prescott area.

Three of the fires – named Platypus, Rhino and Surveyor – are north of Sedona and fire managers with the Coconino National Forest are working to suppress them without putting their personnel in danger.

“The three fires burning north of Sedona are in extremely hazardous and rugged terrain in the Red Rock Secret Mountain Wilderness,” according to a Coconino National Forest news release.

Because of the deadly fires ongoing in the northwest U.S., aerial firefighting equipment has “little to no availability,” so Coconino National Forest is having to rely primarily on ground resources to keep the fires from impacting certain values places at risk, such as private property, cultural sites, and major transmission power lines.

Actions are also being taken to minimize smoke impacts where possible, the news release states.

“Thunderstorms building in the area of the fires may randomly change wind directions making smoke patters very difficult to predict,” according to the release.

Closer to Flagstaff are three other lightning-started fires – named Deer, Bristow and Seep – that may also be contributing to Prescott’s hazy skies. These three are in more remote areas, so fire managers are using the fires to “benefit the landscape and maintain a healthy ecosystem by allowing fire to fulfill its natural role and consume forest debris,” according to another Coconino National Forest news release.