Prescribed Fire in Grand Canyon National Park Now Out of Control
Best laid plans literally have gone up in flames in Grand Canyon National Park, where a prescribed fire proposed to burn 6,200 acres on the North Rim has blown out of control.
As of this afternoon the Walla Valley Fire was burning across 225 acres and was just 15 percent contained. It's located about 9 miles west of the North Rim's developed area.
The fire, which is burning in Ponderosa pine and Gamble oak, is being fought by about 100 firefighters who are being supported by four fire engines, one bulldozer, and two helicopters.
Park crews started the fire June 21 as a prescribed burn. Park officials say modeling and the behavior of a small test fire indicated that conditions were appropriate to burn. However, the very next day officials decided to halt the fire as spot fires were being started by embers blowing beyond fire lines. Unfortunately, that was no easy task.
"All spot fires were suppressed, and firefighters began to focus their efforts on holding the fire within the burn unit and checking the spread of a portion of the fire that was active below the rim," the park reported on Thursday. "While efforts to hold the fire below the rim have been successful, the fire’s edge is now approaching thicker, denser fuels where it will become much more difficult for fire fighters to continue successful holding operations. As a result, fire managers made the decision to convert the Walla Valley Fire from a prescribed fire to a wildfire and have begun suppression operations."
Interestingly, the park's web site notes that fire danger in the park is "high" and that visitor should "be cautious when dealing with possible sources of ignition."