Highway 60, AZ – Firefighters battling the Flying V Fire have achieved considerable success in building containment lines around the blaze, which originated at Highway 60 near mile marker 300 on July 5, 2023. As of the latest update on Saturday, July 8, the fire has consumed approximately 831 acres, and its cause remains undetermined. The fire remains uncontained, with containment currently at 0%, but with continued success that number is expected to go up.
Due to the diligent and effective work early on by the crews from BIA Fort Apache Agency and now a dedicated force of 245 personnel, including eight crews, five engines, one water tender, three helicopters, and two dozers, fire activity has moderated, allowing the suppression lines to hold steadfast. Moving forward, firefighting resources will continue patrolling the fire lines, while aerial resources will be deployed strategically to mitigate the fire’s progression. Fire crews will maintain a vigilant presence along Highway 60, focusing on enhancing and reinforcing handlines and dozer lines to better contain the fire.
In the interest of public and firefighter safety, a temporary emergency closure has been imposed along Highway 60, spanning mileposts 256 to 311. This closure will remain in effect until further notice, with no estimated timeline for reopening the highway. Additionally, the White Mountain Apache Tribe implemented an executive order, effective July 7, 2023, which imposes restrictions to prevent fire incidents. This includes a ban on campfires near lakes, streams, and within the community, as well as yard burning. Wood cutting is only permitted before 10:00 a.m., and no wood cutting is allowed within the closure area.
Weather conditions are expected to be relatively favorable, with clear skies, temperatures reaching up to 95 degrees Fahrenheit, and winds ranging from 10 to 20 mph. While this weather outlook may support firefighting efforts, caution is still necessary due to the unpredictable nature of wildfires.
Several valuable assets are at risk within the fire’s vicinity. These include the Emory Oak grove in the Flying V area, sensitive species within the surrounding regions, cattle and grazing areas, watershed and riparian zones, woodland areas, Salt River recreation sites, the Highway 60 transportation corridor, as well as communication towers on Brewer Hill, Cibecue Ridge, and north of Salt River Canyon. Efforts are underway to safeguard these important resources from the fire’s destructive path.
Residents in Cibecue, White River, Carrizo, Cedar Creek, and the White Mountain communities should be mindful of potential wildfire smoke. Taking precautionary measures, such as staying indoors, closing windows, and using air purifiers, is highly recommended to protect against the harmful effects of smoke inhalation.
For the most up-to-date information on the Flying V Fire, concerned individuals can visit the official Inciweb page at https://inciweb.wildfire.gov/incident-information/azwat-flying-v-fire or the dedicated Facebook page of the Bureau of Indian Affairs Fort Apache Agency Fire Management at https://www.facebook.com/BIAFAAFireMgt. Air quality information is available through ADEQ Air Quality Information at https://azdeg.gov/node/7077, while travel updates can be found on ADOT’s website at https://www.az511.com/. Details regarding the executive order on Stage 2 Fire Restrictions and Limited Forest Closures on the Fort Apache Indian Reservation can be accessed through official channels.
As firefighting operations continue, the bravery and dedication of the firefighting personnel, supported by the community, remain crucial in containing the Flying V Fire and safeguarding lives, property, and the surrounding natural environment.