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Smoke engulfed Jerome and blanketed the Verde Valley on Monday afternoon, Aug. 10, as the Woodchute Fire on Mingus Mountain raged on, forcing officials to close the highway over the mountain.

The fire started July 19 and the U.S. Forest Service elected to manage the fire rather than put it out. Management efforts then became overwhelmed resulting in the fire reaching State Route 89A.

State Route 89A closed over the weekend due to the proximity of the fire and smoke conditions, according to a press release from the Prescott National Forest on Monday. As of Tuesday morning, Aug. 11, the road remained closed.

WoodchuteFire_8-12Law enforcement officers stopped motorists in Jerome telling them they would have to turn around and use I-17 to reach Prescott.

Monday morning, Jerome Fire Chief Rusty Blair said USFS put up a sign at the Jerome fire station warning motorists they wouldn’t make it much further than town limits.

In town, Blair said the smoke takes over in the evening when the temperature drops, allowing it to settle in. As far as actually seeing the fire make it to the city on the hill, Blair said he isn’t worried that will happen.

“The forest service has got a handle on it,” Blair said, and he’s monitoring the situation constantly, receiving multiple daily updates on the fire’s status.

So far, the Woodchute Fire has burned 430 acres in and around the Woodchute Wilderness and is 20 percent contained.

There are nine engines and a water tender on-site including engines from Jerome and Cottonwood.

Cottonwood Fire Chief Mike Casson said Cottonwood Fire Department sent one brush truck to be used on the fire for three to four days.

Blair sent one engine and two firefighters to help.

The fire is low intensity due to the type of fuel available, mostly ponderosa pine, according to USFS. The fire is backing downhill with minimum tree torching, burning ground fuel, such as needles, dead and down materials and low vegetation.

USFS plans to suppress the fire burning outside the wilderness boundary but allow fire within the wilderness to continue to burn.

State Route 89A will remain closed until USFS determines it no longer endangers motorists.

Smoke will continue to impact the Verde Valley.

 

Trista Steers can be reached at 282-7795, ext. 124, or e-mail tsteers@larsonnewspapers.com

Smoke engulfed Jerome and blanketed the Verde Valley on Monday afternoon, Aug. 10, as the Woodchute Fire on Mingus Mountain raged on, forcing officials to close the highway over the mountain.

The fire started July 19 and the U.S. Forest Service elected to manage the fire rather than put it out. Management efforts then became overwhelmed resulting in the fire reaching State Route 89A.

State Route 89A closed over the weekend due to the proximity of the fire and smoke conditions, according to a press release from the Prescott National Forest on Monday. As of Tuesday morning, Aug. 11, the road remained closed.

WoodchuteFire_8-12Law enforcement officers stopped motorists in Jerome telling them they would have to turn around and use I-17 to reach Prescott.

Monday morning, Jerome Fire Chief Rusty Blair said USFS put up a sign at the Jerome fire station warning motorists they wouldn’t make it much further than town limits.

In town, Blair said the smoke takes over in the evening when the temperature drops, allowing it to settle in. As far as actually seeing the fire make it to the city on the hill, Blair said he isn’t worried that will happen.

“The forest service has got a handle on it,” Blair said, and he’s monitoring the situation constantly, receiving multiple daily updates on the fire’s status.

So far, the Woodchute Fire has burned 430 acres in and around the Woodchute Wilderness and is 20 percent contained.

There are nine engines and a water tender on-site including engines from Jerome and Cottonwood.

Cottonwood Fire Chief Mike Casson said Cottonwood Fire Department sent one brush truck to be used on the fire for three to four days.

Blair sent one engine and two firefighters to help.

The fire is low intensity due to the type of fuel available, mostly ponderosa pine, according to USFS. The fire is backing downhill with minimum tree torching, burning ground fuel, such as needles, dead and down materials and low vegetation.

USFS plans to suppress the fire burning outside the wilderness boundary but allow fire within the wilderness to continue to burn.

State Route 89A will remain closed until USFS determines it no longer endangers motorists.

Smoke will continue to impact the Verde Valley.

 

Trista Steers can be reached at 282-7795, ext. 124, or e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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