Fire Stories

Fire stories from the national parks highlight events, incidents, and the like, associated with fire and fuels management, as well as fire education, technology, partnerships, and more. Stories highlight work related to Department of the Interior initiatives as well as local and regional initiatives.

Hand ignition with driptorch.

Hand ignition of prescribed fire using driptorch. NPS photo by Michelle Fidler.

Prescribed Fire Reduces Fuels around Park Structures

Coronado National Memorial
National Fire Plan, Fuels Reduction*

On May 27, 2009 Coronado National Memorial conducted a prescribed burn to reduce fuels around park headquarters, park housing, the visitor center and the picnic area. Objectives included reducing fine fuel loading and ladder fuels within the unit. Fuels in the area included grass, manzanita, oak, and juniper.

Eleven of fifteen planned acres were treated. Thunderstorm development mid-day caused unfavorable outflow winds so ignition was stopped and a checkline was constructed to hold the fire. Resources included 4 engines plus 15 firefighters from Saguaro National Park and Coronado National Forest.

This is the park’s second prescribed burn. It is part of a strategy to create fuelbreaks in the park that will help make a wildfire easier to control if one should occur. The adjacent Coronado National Forest, Sierra Vista Ranger District previously conducted a prescribed burn in March 2008 which included a portion of the park. Firefighters also used chainsaws to thin around park structures in May 2008, further helping to create defensible space.

Coronado National Monument prescribed burn.

Objectives of the burn included reducing fine fuel loading and ladder fuels within the unit. NPS photo by Michelle Fidler.

Wildfires are a concern in the park, especially due to limited egress and the potential for rapid fire spread within the steep, rocky terrain of the parks’ main topographical feature, Montezuma Canyon. To date, two major wildfires have impacted the park: the Peak Fire in 1988 and the 103 Fire in 2006. Both fires burned significant acreage within the park and involved evacuations of park residents.

Coronado National Memorial encompasses approximately 4,750 acres in Cochise County, Arizona, along the United States/Mexico boundary. Elevations range from 5,000 to 7,825 feet. Vegetation is primarily desert grasses and shrubs in lower elevations and oak woodlands and pinyon/juniper forests in upper elevations. The area to the west and north of the memorial is administered by the Coronado National Forest, while most of the east boundary abuts Arizona State Trust land. Small amounts of private land are also adjacent to the northeastern and southeastern boundary. There is one narrow, mountain road through the park, only a portion of which is paved.

Contact: Kym Hall, Superintendent
Phone: (520) 366-5515 ext. 21

*This story supports Department of the Interior initiatives.