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Containment starts on Wood Springs 2 fire on Navajo Nation

Navajo Nation leaders visit fire zone, commend firefighters

Noel Lyn Smith
Farmington Daily Times
  • The fire has burned 10,694 acres with 5% containment.
  • It is burning approximately five miles west of Sawmill and east of Navajo Route 7.
  • Smoke drifting to the northeast overnight will start to settle in low areas, including Farmington.

GALLUP — Smoke will persist in San Juan County as firefighters start to contain a wildfire near Sawmill, Arizona on the Navajo Nation.

The fire has burned 10,694 acres with 5% containment and remains approximately five miles west of Sawmill and east of Navajo Route 7, according to the management team update.

An early assessment by ground crews in the fire area found that two corrals burned and one hogan sustained "minor fire damage," the update stated.

Further assessment on structures will take place when areas are safe for firefighters to enter.

Craig Tsosie, incident commander with Apache County District 2, updates Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez, left, about the Wood Springs 2 fire on July 1. The fire is burning approximately five miles west of Sawmill, Arizona.

Smoke follows a familiar route

The smoke's trajectory from the Wood Springs 2 fire is similar to previous days since the fire's start on June 27 in an area three miles east of Wood Springs, Arizona.

The update on July 2 from the Southwest Incident Management Team 5 states smoke will travel during the daytime to the east and northeast toward Crystal, Newcomb and Shiprock.

Smoke drifting to the northeast overnight will start to settle in low areas, including Farmington.

Pregnant women, children, older adults and individuals with heart or lung issues or those who have or are recovering from COVID-19 are especially sensitive to the adverse effects of smoke, according to the Interagency Wildland Fire Air Quality Response Program.

"Remember if you can smell smoke, you are breathing smoke," states the July 2 update.

A full report about smoke activity is available at the U.S. Forest Service's Wildland Fire Air Quality Response Program website at wildlandfiresmoke.net/outlooks/NEArizona. Updates can also be viewed on a smoke map at airnow.gov.

Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez, left, and Vice President Myron Lizer, right, meet members of the Prescott Hotshots on July 1. The wildland firefighters were working an area of the Wood Springs 2 fire, burning west of Sawmill, Arizona.

Navajo Nation leaders visit fire zone

Many departments under the Navajo Nation government have been managing non-firefighting activities, including conducting road blocks and handling evacuations of community members, many who use the area for summer grazing by livestock.

Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez and Vice President Myron Lizer visited the fire zone on July 1. Such visits have become routine for the two leaders, who commended firefighters for their work and received updates from various fire personnel.

"I feel good that you are all here," Nez said to members of the Prescott Hotshots from Arizona.

The firefighters are among 384 personnel responding to the fire. Other hotshot crews seen on July 1 were from Globe, Arizona, Mount Taylor, Zuni and the Navajo Nation.

Nez said other government agency supporting the fire effort is Apache County, which has been delivering water from Red Lake, Chimney Rock Lake and Ganado Lake.

Fire burns an area alongside Navajo Route 7 on July 1. The Wood Springs 2 fire is 5% contained and located west of Sawmill, Arizona.

Fire crews target hot spots, build firelines

The fire manager's daily update states firefighters on July 2 will work to extinguish hot spots and secure firelines on the southwest portion of the fire.

On the east side, firefighters are using direct and indirect tactics to fight the fire.

An "indirect attack" means firefighters will create a fireline away from the fire's edge and may burn vegetation in the area between that fireline and the fire's advancing edge, taking away the fuel it needs to continue, according to a reference guide by coloradofirecamp.com.

Crews in the northwest section are constructing handlines and conducting firing operations along Route 7 "to back fire down drainages, eventually meeting the wildfire perimeter and preventing the fire from crossing the road."

Information about the fire can be found on the Inciweb page at inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/6813/ and the BIA Wildland Fire Management – Navajo Region Facebook page.

Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4636 or by email at nsmith@daily-times.com.

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The sun is visible through smoke from the Wood Springs 2 fire on July 1. The fire is five miles west of Sawmill, Arizona.