2017 Sawmill Fire closes AZT and some Santa Rita Trails

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2017 Sawmill Fire closes AZT and some Santa Rita Trails

Post by SkyIslandHiker » Apr 25 2017 6:39 am

Temporary road and trail closure in the Santa Rita Mountains
Full suppression efforts in progress for Sawmill Fire
 
Tucson, AZ (April 24, 2017), For Immediate Release – The Coronado National Forest, Nogales Ranger District, will temporarily close National Forest Service Road (NFSR) 62 at the entrance to Box Canyon, easterly to the junction with NFSR 229, continuing southwesterly to NFSR 165 and on to the Melendrez Pass Communication Site in the Santa Rita Mountains.
 
On the Arizona National Scenic Trail, the closure includes the segment from NFSR 4110 northward to NFSR 4072. Also included are Cave Creek, Sawmill, and Florida Canyon trails.
 
The temporary closure is in place to provide for public safety and to limit traffic while fire suppression activities are underway on the Sawmill Fire. The roads are expected to reopen May 8, 2017, but may open at an earlier date, depending on the success of firefighting efforts.
 
The Sawmill Fire, located10 miles southeast of Green Valley and north of Madera Canyon, is burning on lands under the jurisdiction of the Coronado National Forest and the Arizona Department of Forestry and Fire Management. Fire size is approximately 7,500 acres. This figure is based on a visual estimate and will likely change.
 
Gusty winds and broken topography have contributed to growth of the fire, burning in tall grass, riparian woodland, mesquite/oak brush, oak woodland, and pinyon-juniper fuel types. Values at risk include homes, ranches and outbuildings, communications facilities, powerlines, and the Arizona National Scenic Trail.
 
The strategy for the incident is full suppression. Resources assigned include five hotshot crews (Aravaipa, Blue Ridge, Globe, Payson, Prescott), four hand crews from the Arizona Department of Forestry and Fire Management, 20 fire engines, five air tankers, three helicopters, and miscellaneous overhead.
 
For more information on the road closure, please contact the Nogales Ranger District located at 303 Old Tucson Rd, Nogales, Arizona.  The office can be reached by phone by calling (520) 281-2296. Office hours are 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.
 
For more information on the Sawmill Fire, please contact Fire Information Officer John Cambra at (480) 826-7005.
 
On April 25, a Type II Incident Management Team will assume management of the fire. Contact information will be announced through a news release.
Last edited by SkyIslandHiker on Jul 11 2017 6:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Sawmill Fire closes AZT and some Santa Rita Trails

Post by Sredfield » Apr 30 2017 2:20 am

Forest Service provided these:
20170426_153027.jpg
East of Rosemont Junction at the FR4064 road crossing looking south.
20170426_164537.jpg
Gate east of FR62
20170426_164541.jpg
Gate west of FR 62
See https://hikearizona.com/photoset.php?ID=45152 for contrast.
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Re: Sawmill Fire closes AZT and some Santa Rita Trails

Post by SkyIslandHiker » Apr 30 2017 7:08 am

Yesterday morning I went up Mt. Wrightson to get a birds-eye view of the Sawmill Fire. I was pleasantly surprised to see absolutely NO smoke whatsoever! From my vantage point the fire appeared "done". I was also glad to see that the fire appeared to stop just short of the Whetstones. Don't know if you can see it in the photo but there is still a narrow strip of green between the eastern edge of the fire and the base of the Whetstones which I think might be the trees along Cienega Creek.

https://hikearizona.com/photo.php?ZIP=642457

https://hikearizona.com/photo.php?ZIP=642466

On the drive out of Madera Canyon we got a good view of the western part of the burn that went up and over Castle Dome.

https://hikearizona.com/photo.php?ZIP=642465

As of 8pm yesterday evening, the Sawmill Fire was reported as 89% contained having burned almost 47,000 acres. Firefighting costs thus far is $4.25 million !

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Re: Sawmill Fire closes AZT and some Santa Rita Trails

Post by Jim_H » Apr 30 2017 8:27 am

Wake me when it rivals the Florida Canyon fire.
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Re: Sawmill Fire closes AZT and some Santa Rita Trails

Post by SkyIslandHiker » Apr 30 2017 8:44 am

Jim_H wrote:Wake me when it rivals the Florida Canyon fire.
The 2005 Florida Fire was only 23,000 acres, half the size of the Sawmill Fire. However, I would agree that that the Florida Fire was much more destructive especially in terms of tree and habitat loss. Unlike the human-caused Sawmill Fire, the the Florida Fire was a natural fire from start (lightening strike) to finish (doused by monsoon).

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Re: Sawmill Fire closes AZT and some Santa Rita Trails

Post by SkyIslandHiker » Apr 30 2017 11:30 am

In addition to the temporary closures of the Florida Canyon, Sawmill, Cave Creek Trails and AZT (Passage 5), the Las Cienegas National Conservation Area and Empire Ranch are also closed.
Last edited by SkyIslandHiker on May 02 2017 5:50 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Sawmill Fire closes AZT and some Santa Rita Trails

Post by chumley » May 01 2017 9:53 am

Jim_H wrote:This fire, just isn't that important, big of a deal or damaging. It isn't.
Everything is relative. It's always a big deal when it's in somebody's backyard, or their favorite stomping grounds. It is a big deal to those people. Ultimately this fire will be quickly forgotten to all but those immediately affected by it, which is a relatively small number in this case. The long-lasting scars will be seen by very few since the northern Rita foothills are not a hotbed of recreation and visitation.
flagscott wrote:One of the things about being a scientist is that you get trained to base conclusions on evidence.

I am going to wait until after the fire is put out to see what the assessments done by USFS and the other agencies say. Until then, there's really nothing to go on.
One piece of scientific evidence is observation. I don't need to see the official rain gauge reading from the NWS to conclude that it rained. The size of the puddles even give me a good idea of how much it rained. Which doesn't mean I don't want to know the exact amount of rain that fell, where it fell, and compare it with other related readings such as atmospheric pressure, dew point, temperature, and humidity recorded at various levels in the atmosphere, as well as compare all that data to previous weather systems that produced rain, etc., etc. I LOVE that data. But without all the data, it doesn't take a scientist to know that it rained! :-$
Sredfield wrote:Let it begin . . . or if that's too political someone can delete the post.
flagscott wrote:(Mods--if this is too political or off topic, feel free to move it to a new thread in politics.)
joebartels wrote:As with the entire site, if response to other members is honestly courteous it'll probably be fine.
It's an internet forum. And probably the most civil/boring forum on the entire internet. There are more heated opinions expressed about what cookies to serve after mass over on the church chat site! :lol:

I'm not sure how any mods can figure out what members are being honestly courteous, but that's an argument for another day.

I'd rather read the opinions of people with whom I disagree than have them deleted or never be exposed to another view. Even if I get my feelings hurt. Sometimes I say dumb shit. It's good to get called out on it! But that's just me.
AZHiker456 wrote:I'm hoping that anyone interested in continuing the debate over the fire topic can take it to a different thread...
There are numerous threads here on HAZ and most of the fire ones end up having the same discussions. A fire is human caused; we all determine that the people are stupid; they either aren't prosecuted or get off with a "slap on the wrist"; etc. Pick a fire and search the forum. Plenty of good reading!

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Re: Sawmill Fire closes AZT and some Santa Rita Trails

Post by Sredfield » May 01 2017 10:50 am

Report from one of the AZT Stewards out that way:

... but we went to a lookout area where we could see most of the southern end of my trail and things didn’t look too bad. The bigger trees and bushes appear fine and though the grass had been burned it didn’t look like it was too hot of a fire there. We went down by where the new parking area will be and the same thing, trees look like they will be fine though singed a bit. Went down Box Canyon Rd. (FR 62) as far as allowed which was the Greaterville Rd. jct. We stopped and looked closely at the grass that had been burned and were amazed that the tufts of grass all had a little green shoot or two already poking their heads out of the burned tuft. Amazing! . . . .
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Re: Sawmill Fire closes AZT and some Santa Rita Trails

Post by flagscott » May 01 2017 1:06 pm

chumley wrote:One piece of scientific evidence is observation. I don't need to see the official rain gauge reading from the NWS to conclude that it rained. The size of the puddles even give me a good idea of how much it rained. Which doesn't mean I don't want to know the exact amount of rain that fell, where it fell, and compare it with other related readings such as atmospheric pressure, dew point, temperature, and humidity recorded at various levels in the atmosphere, as well as compare all that data to previous weather systems that produced rain, etc., etc. I LOVE that data. But without all the data, it doesn't take a scientist to know that it rained! :-$

That's a fine response...but it has nothing whatsoever to do with what I said. If someone wants to make general statements about a fire that's burned 190 square kilometers (we scientists like to keep things metric), then they should have, well, a metric pumpkin-seed of data. In this case, that would probably mean satellite imagery, estimates of burn intensity, assessments of foresters or range managers, and so on--with all of those observations taken throughout the burn area.

To put things in terms of your example....If you want to measure the temperature of your backyard, a single thermometer is fine. If you want to measure the temperature of a 190-square km area, you're gonna need a lot of thermometers.

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Re: Sawmill Fire closes AZT and some Santa Rita Trails

Post by chumley » May 01 2017 1:45 pm

flagscott wrote: If someone wants to make general statements about a fire that's burned 190 square kilometers (we scientists like to keep things metric), then they should have, well, a metric pumpkin-seed of data.
Apparently you became a scientist in the past 9 weeks, because on March 1st you were discussing fires in terms of acreage burned, not square kilometers. :o

I'd like to read the post-fire assessments and environmental studies when they become available. But I think it's relatively clear to those who have observed the current situation and reported on it that this fire is in fact "not a big deal". Unfortunately my imperial "big deal" to metric conversion app isn't working today.

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Re: Sawmill Fire closes AZT and some Santa Rita Trails

Post by flagscott » May 01 2017 2:58 pm

chumley wrote:I'd like to read the post-fire assessments and environmental studies when they become available. But I think it's relatively clear to those who have observed the current situation and reported on it that this fire is in fact "not a big deal". Unfortunately my imperial "big deal" to metric conversion app isn't working today.
tl;dr version of this thread:
flagscott: let's just wait for the data to come in before jumping to conclusions
HAZers like Chumley and Jim: eh, we don't need no stinkin' data

Stuff like this is why there was a nationwide March for Science last week. It's sad that in the year 2017 scientists still have to argue with people about whether or not methodically gathering evidence is the best way to draw conclusions about the state of the world. Some days, I feel like I'm in the Middle Ages.

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Re: Sawmill Fire closes AZT and some Santa Rita Trails

Post by chumley » May 01 2017 3:13 pm

flagscott wrote:I feel like I'm in the Middle Ages
I blame the internet.

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Re: Sawmill Fire closes AZT and some Santa Rita Trails

Post by JasonCleghorn » May 01 2017 3:25 pm

A fire is neither good nor bad, it burns with smug indifference.
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Re: Sawmill Fire closes AZT and some Santa Rita Trails

Post by RedRoxx44 » May 01 2017 6:33 pm

Is this a good time for the Mark Twain quote " "There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics." ?

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Re: Sawmill Fire closes AZT and some Santa Rita Trails

Post by Tough_Boots » May 01 2017 8:31 pm

RedRoxx44 wrote:Is this a good time for the Mark Twain quote " "There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics." ?
No, because the true assessment of environmental impact over time is qualitative and not necessarily quantitative. Your Twain quote is about the manipulation of numerical data.
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Re: Sawmill Fire closes AZT and some Santa Rita Trails

Post by SkyIslandHiker » May 02 2017 6:24 am

From the Arizona Trail Association E-News (May 1):

"Sawmill Fire Forces Trail Closure

The first major fire of the spring season directly impacting the Arizona Trail erupted on Sunday, April 23 along the foothills of the Santa Rita Mountains. High winds caused the blaze to grow to over 46,991 acres, and the Coronado National Forest issued a closure order for many forest roads, trails, and a portion of State Route 83.

For the Arizona National Scenic Trail, the closure includes the entirety of Passage 5 (Santa Rita Mountains). The northern border closure to the trail is FR 2852 at Hwy 83 and the southern border closure is the Gardner Canyon Trailhead (FR 92). Also closed are Cave Creek, Sawmill, and Florida Canyon Trails. There is no safe and reasonable detour at this time, so the AZT is closed until the area can be stabilized and determined safe for trail users.

The good news is that the fire perimeter is 94% contained, and photographs from fire personnel on the ground show minimal impacts to the Arizona Trail. Since healthy grassland environments rely on seasonal fires, this incident might prove to be beneficial in the long-term. But please don't enter the area until the closure order has been lifted! Smoldering oak trees can spark up again and cause another blaze."

Image

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Re: Sawmill Fire closes AZT and some Santa Rita Trails

Post by RedRoxx44 » May 02 2017 5:30 pm

@Tough_Boots
?? Numerical data will be in there somewhere. Not necessarily this fire, as we know the strategy was full suppression, but other fires the size ( however measured in acres, or whatever) of the natural fire versus the assisted fire.

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Re: Sawmill Fire closes AZT and some Santa Rita Trails

Post by flagscott » May 08 2017 1:14 pm

Here's a good article discussing the upcoming assessment of the damage from the Sawmill Fire: http://www.abc15.com/news/region-centra ... determined

Of course, why spend time and money on a scientific assessment when the scientists at HAZ have already determined that the fire didn't do any harm? <sarcasm>

And one more thing: I hadn't realized that so much of Las Cienegas burned. In the context of the mature cottonwoods potentially killed, one thing that article didn't mention is that Arizona's riparian areas are in shit shape. Whether it's overgrazing, water diversion, wells, invasive species, dams, or fire, there are not a lot of high-quality riparian areas left. So if a lot of cottonwoods were killed in the fire (that's tbd, obviously), that would mean even less quality habitat left for species that use riparian forests.

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Re: Sawmill Fire closes AZT and some Santa Rita Trails

Post by SkyIslandHiker » May 08 2017 1:53 pm

flagscott wrote:I hadn't realized that so much of Las Cienegas burned
A newscast reported this morning that 28% of Las Cienegas National Conservation Area burned. From the top of Mt. Wrightson one can see a narrow but long band of green between the eastern edge of the Sawmill burn and the Whetstone Mountains. I'm hoping that the green is from cottonwoods.

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Re: Sawmill Fire closes AZT and some Santa Rita Trails

Post by SkyIslandHiker » May 10 2017 7:20 am

From Arizona Trail e-News, May 9, 2017:

"AZT Open in Area Impacted by Sawmill Fire
Arizona Trail e-News wrote:Last week, the Coronado National Forest lifted the temporary closure order for the forest roads and trails impacted by the Sawmill Fire, including nearly 15 miles of the Arizona National Scenic Trail (Passages 5 and 6) between Gardner Canyon Road and Rosemont Junction. Although the AZT is open again, trail users should use extreme caution in the area and be aware of burned trees that could topple, smoldering logs, missing signs, and other hazards that result from wildfires.
 
The medium-intensity burn impacted approximately 8.5 miles of the AZT, mostly between the Morning Star Mine (trail mile 79.1) near Forest Road 165 and Forest Road 4064 (trail mile 88.4). A recent trail assessment revealed that grasses are already rebounding and many of the mature oak and mesquite trees survived the blaze. The incident will benefit the landscape in the long-term, but visitors should be prepared for a charred landscape over the next six months.
 
The area hardest hit by the Sawmill Fire is the Las Cienegas National Conservation Area to the east of Highway 83. It remains closed to the public until it has been determined to be safe by the Bureau of Land Management.
 
ATA trail stewards are currently replacing carsonite signs melted by the fire and clearing debris from the tread. The ATA and Coronado National Forest will work together to stabilize the trail and nearby hillsides to protect the AZT from erosion that will undoubtedly happen this summer.
 
The Sawmill Fire was the unfortunate result of recreational target shooting and explosive targets in dry, windy conditions. A total of 46,991 acres were burned in the incident, which cost over $5 million to fight..."
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Re: 2017 Sawmill Fire closes AZT and some Santa Rita Trails

Post by hikeaz » Sep 29 2018 7:16 am

An off-duty border patrol agent pleaded guilty Friday to starting the Sawmill Fire, which caused $8 million worth of damage in Arizona in April 2017.

Dennis Dickey, 37, of Tucson pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor violation of U.S. Forest Service regulations. He agreed to a sentence of five years’ probation and will pay over $8 million in restitution, according to the news release.
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