More than 300 firefighters are battling two lightning-sparked blazes near the Grand Canyon that have consumed almost 3,000 acres, threatened wildlife and forced the closure of several trailheads.
Fire officials from Kaibab National Forest Service in Williams, Ariz., said the larger of the two fires, the Bridgers Knoll fire, began burning below the North Rim of the Grand Canyon June 20 about 1 p.m. It blew up out of the canyon on the North Kaibab Ranger District, burning ponderosa pine and oak.There have been no reported injuries, but 10 hikers were airlifted out of the Grand Canyon on Sunday as firefighters battled the blaze.
"If they had come out of the canyon, they would have come out right in the fire," said U.S. Forest Service spokeswoman Teri Steilen.
Fire crews from across the country, including New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Florida, helped battle the forest fire and also fought eight other fires across northern Arizona. Altogether, the fires had burned nearly 17,000 acres by Sunday night.
The Bridgers Knoll wildfire was exhibiting extreme, erratic fire behavior due to drought conditions and high winds, Steilen said.
Late Sunday night, it had complexed with another blaze, the Jump fire, which was moving northeast in the region. The two fires are posing threats to wildlife habitat vital to wild turkey, Northern Goshawk and mule deer.
Steilen said the blaze is becoming more difficult to fight, as it is threatening to go from flat, accessible terrain into a mixed conifer forest that is rugged and more dangerous to fire personnel. A New Mexico incident command team is managing the blaze.
Another fire, the Pass fire, was contained to less than 10 acres by Sunday night. And the Colcord fire, southeast of Williams in the Sycamore Canyon Wilderness, was held to 35 acres and also declared out Sunday.
Steilen said the fires have forced the closure of the North Kaibab Ranger District and people with backcountry camping permits from Grand Canyon National Park are being denied access to the following trailheads: Sowats Point; Indian Hollow; Crazy Jug; Jump Up Point; and Bill Hall.
Hikers with permits to travel from the western portion of the North Rim of the Grand Canyon are urged to contact the ranger district for further information.
Nearby White Horse Lake remained opened, but recreationists are advised that no boating will be allowed in order to let helicopters gather water for the duration of the fire.
In Nevada, at least three homes were destroyed and more than 125 were threatened by a wildfire in an upscale neighborhood in Genoa, about 60 miles south of Reno. The fire, which officials suspect was caused by humans, broke out about 2:30 p.m. Sunday and had burned more than two square miles.
"I had to turn out all the horses and all the cattle," said Janice Sorenson, who made a quick exit as the blaze approached her family ranch. "I could feel the heat and the noise was horrendous. I was running all over the place and the smoke was so black I couldn't see."