For fire managers, the 263-acre Pinal Fire presents not just a challenge, but an opportunity.
After 65 years without a wildfire, the question wasn’t if a tinderbox of dead trees and forest litter six miles south of Globe would burn, but when.
The answer came when lightning struck around May 8, and forest managers couldn’t be happier. For years, they’ve planned to use such a low-intensity burn to restore the resiliency of the fire-adapted ponderosa pine and mixed-conifer forest.
“The fire will stay very low-intensity, and it’s just going to clean up the forest floor and do what nature’s intended to do,” said Brad Widhalm with the Tonto National Forest.
Managers hope the fire will clear 12,000 acres, but plant and moisture conditions could limit the burn to about half that area. Meanwhile, fire crews will ensure private land, recreation facilities and infrastructure remain safe.