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Arizona fire 17 percent contained; no major air impacts expected July 4 in Farmington area

John R. Moses
Farmington Daily Times

FARMINGTON – Communities near the Wood Springs 2 fire may see moderate to heavy smoke impacts this weekend, but experts say the Farmington area may get a break with minor, if any, effects from the wildfire’s smoke plume on July 4.

The same forecast was made for July 3, but a smoke-tracking website showed smoke was detected in the Four Corners region that day as the smoke plume shifted northeast.

The fire grew to 11,857 acres, and firefighters have achieved 17% containment. 

The blaze moved to the north and the northwest in the area of White Rock Wash, the U.S. Forest Service reported. “The fire has not crossed Route 7. It is approximately 5 miles from Sawmill, AZ.”

There were 429 fire personnel on the lines July 3 battling a lightning-sparked wildfire that has torn through an area with pińon-juniper, ponderosa pine, sage and grasses as its fuel.

No lives have been lost, and a Hogan reportedly was damaged by fire.

Skies in the Farmington area seemed clear of heavy smoke from that fire the morning of July 3, but the airnow.gov smoke map showed the plume stretching over Farmington and light smoke drifting as far north as Cheyenne, Wyoming, at 5:22 p.m.

Go to www.airnow.gov to monitor current air conditions.

“Wind will not carry smoke as far from the fire today and some light smoke may drift to the west where it has not been noticed before,” a report from the USFS Wildland Fire Air Quality Response Program said July 3. “As the day begins to cool, areas just to the east of the fire will again have dense smoke settle into low lying

areas. Sawmill, Fort Defiance, and Window Rock may experience periods unhealthy air overnight. Expect this pattern to repeat again tomorrow.”

Firefighters brought in an unmanned drone to help in the effort to keep the fire from crossing a major road.

“Light winds will allow for additional firing operations off Route 7 on the northern portion of the fire in an effort to keep the wildfire from jumping Route 7,” according to a morning update July 3 from Incident Commander Mark Bernal of the Southwest Area Incident Management Team 5.

The update said helicopters “delivered water, and air tankers dropped multiple loads of retardant along Route 7 yesterday to reinforce the fire line. Aircraft will continue to strategically work the fire where needed.”

Crews in that area are also putting out spot fires caused by drifting embers.

Navajo Nation leadership on July 3 reminded the public of the stage 2 fire restrictions the administration put into place on Navajo lands that bans fireworks, open fires, and trash burning in an attempt to prevent more fires from starting. A 57-hour weekend lockdown is also set through the weekend starting Friday night.

"Please remember our first responders this holiday weekend," said Navajo Nation Vice President Myron Lizer in a prepared release. "They do not get a break and many are away from their families. Between the COVID-19 pandemic and the Wood Springs 2 Fire, our first responders are spread thin, so please help them by staying home and staying safe. Please enjoy the holiday weekend at home with your loved ones and keep praying for our frontline warriors,"  

Contact John R. Moses at 505-564-4624, or via email at jmoses@daily-times.com.

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A firefighting helicopter travels above ponderosa pine as part of the response to the Wood Springs 2 fire on July 1. The fire continues to burn west of Sawmill, Arizona.