Mountain Ablaze For The First Time In A Century

By  Stina Sieg
July 31, 2014

(Photo courtesy of Sitgreaves Fire Complex Information)
Fires are being managed to improve forest health in the Kaibab National Forest.

A fire in the Kaibab National Forest has burned more than 4,000 acres in about two weeks, and forest official say that’s a good thing.

Sitgreaves Mountain, northwest of Flagstaff, hasn’t seen fire in about 100 years. And that has left a century’s worth of dangerous overgrowth.

Wade Ward with the National Forest Service said the area was clear cut in the late 1800s and then overplanted. So, when the Duck and Sitgreaves fires started in July, the Forest Service decided to contain and combine them. They’re now called the Sitgreaves Fire Complex.

The point is "not destroy the forest," Ward said. "But burn off some of the heavy fuels that are underneath and some of the dead and decaying forest that needs to go to regenerate the forest and have a much more healthy forest."

Ward said the area is naturally grassland, with up to 400 trees per acre when healthy. At the time the fires began, some acres had more than twice that number.