Frye Fire continues descent down slope on Mount Graham

Jon Johnson Photo/Gila Valley Central: The Frye Fire is expected to be handed back to local control Monday. Very little remains of the fire, which was listed at 93 percent containment, Sunday.

Now listed at 47,688 acres and 66 percent containment

By Jon Johnson

MOUNT GRAHAM – The reduction of firefighters usually signals a fire is on its way out, but in the case of the Frye Fire officials say they are just simply adequately staffed to control it and the fire will only ultimately be put out when the monsoon rains put it out.

That isn’t to say firefighters haven’t managed the fire as best as they could, however, and some areas of the mountain have fared better than others, with the fire performing beneficial tasks. As of Thursday morning, the fire was listed at 47,688 acres with 66 percent containment. The fire began with a  lightning strike at about 2:45 p.m. on June 7 and has burned over from the north side onto the south side of Mount Graham.

Contributed Photo/Courtesy Carlos Acuna: A Chinook heavy duty helicopter comes in to reload near Fort Grant. It takes the helicopter roughly one minute to fill its tank with 2,500 gallons of liquid to be dropped on the fire.

Turkey Flat

The good news about the fire continues to be the management in the Turkey Flat area, where 74 cabins are at risk. Frye Fire public information officer Mike Cole said Hot Shot crews have taken full advantage of the “direct hit” from rainstorms to the Turkey Flat area to get in and construct hand lines to direct the fire to the west into Wet Canyon and down into Shade Creek Trail.

“Turkey Flat is actually looking pretty good,” Cole said. “They’ve kind of concentrated it in that section to keep it from coming out of there and keep it from coming toward Turkey Flat.”

Cole advised while the fire’s progression toward Turkey Flat, it is still actively burning in the area, like a campfire, and windy conditions could push it back toward the cabins.

Grant Creek

Contributed Photo/Courtesy Carlos Acuna: Helicopters continue to provide essential services to the firefighting effort, especially in areas where firefighters cannot be inserted.

The wind blowing the fire forward was shown on the southwest side in the Grant Creek area, as wind assisted its progress in Grant Creek by roughly half a mile yesterday.

Helicopters continue to perform bucket work of water and fire retardant drops in the area, as well as the western side of Riggs Lake. Some of the areas where the fire is burning can only be accessed by helicopter.

“You’ve got some steep country around here,” Cole said.

While the perimeter containment has increased, areas inside the containment area continue to be addressed as they can flare up again as well. Cole mentioned a number of interior burning, including a stand of trees in Swift Canyon that lit up yesterday that didn’t get burned the first time the main fire went through.

“There was enough smolder in there and it got enough additional temperature and sun on there where it started building some heat and burned up that patch,” Cole said. “We’ll probably continue to see stuff like that going on as long as we have this hot, dry weather.”

There will be a community meeting on the Fry Fire at the Thatcher Middle School cafeteria, Thursday, beginning at 7 p.m. The meeting will also be streamed live on the Coronado National Forest Facebook page at #AZFire.