Crooks Fire remains 96% contained as incident management team transfers command to Forest Service

Part of the Crooks Fire burn scar near Kamp Kipa south of Prescott. (Doug Cook/Courier)

Part of the Crooks Fire burn scar near Kamp Kipa south of Prescott. (Doug Cook/Courier)

The Central West Zone Type 3 Incident Management Team will transfer command of fighting the Crooks Fire back to the Forest Service on Tuesday, May 17, a Prescott National Forest Service news release reported May 16.

Located 11 nautical miles south of Prescott on the Bradshaw Ranger District near Mt. Union, the Crooks Fire started April 18 and remains 96% contained after burning about 9,402 acres of timber and chaparral.

The cause of the blaze remains under investigation and 104 personnel remain assigned to fighting the fire in case any flare-ups occur, the release stated.

“Fire objectives will remain the same, which include providing for the safety of the public and fire resources, keeping the fire within its current footprint and ensuring total suppression of the fire,” the release stated. “Due to minimal fire activity, this will be the last Crooks Fire update, unless significant changes occur.”

WATSON LAKE RECREATION AREA REOPENS

The week of May 8, the Incident Base Camp was moved to Groom Creek Horse Camp, which allowed the City of Prescott to reopen Watson Lake Recreation Area to the public on May 13.

“The Prescott National Forest and the Arizona Department of Forestry and Fire Management want to thank the City of Prescott for their generosity and use of Watson Lake during the Crooks Fire,” Bradshaw District Ranger Sarah Clawson and Arizona Department of Forestry and Fire Management’s Russ Shumate stated in the release.

Firefighters are nearing completion of “[fire] suppression repair work,” hazardous tree removal and road mending, the release added.

“Patrolling and securing the perimeter of the fire will continue for the next several weeks as interior fuels continue to burn and smolder,” the release stated.

DRIVE CAUTIOUSLY IN CROOKS FIRE AREA

Prescott National Forest officials are reminding residents in the Crooks Fire area to drive cautiously on the roads as firefighters continue to work in and around the fire area.

“Hazards still exist in and around the fire area and residents living nearby should utilize care as fire-weakened trees, ash pits and burned stump holes remain,” the release stated.

• Fire restrictions: Fire restrictions limit certain activities on public lands during periods of extreme fire risk. Fire restrictions have various levels, called stages.

“Each stage limits specific activities and can vary from place to place, even those areas in close proximity,” the release stated. “Know before you go on that trip to visit our national forests or public lands.”

You may check on current fire restrictions by visiting WildlandFire.az.gov.

• Weather: High pressure will persist across the region the week of May 15, allowing for light, terrain-driven winds and daytime relative humidity values below 10% to continue. Temperatures will be 10 to 15 degrees above normal through the week.

• Forest closure: The Prescott National Forest has reduced the fire-area emergency closure, allowing for Upper Goldwater Lake to reopen to the public. The closure protects public health and safety due to firefighting operations on the Crooks Fire. To read the Prescott National Forest Closure Order and Fire Closure Map, visit fs.usda.gov/alerts/prescott/alerts-notices.

• Crooks Fire information: For more information about the status of the Crooks Fire, call 928-925-1111 or visit inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/8067/, fs.usda.gov/prescott/, facebook.com/PrescottNF and twitter.com/PrescottNF.

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