By Mark Spencer
With fire season in full swing, pilots - especially backcountry pilots - need to be diligent in their pre-flight awareness of fires and related TFR’s. In many of the National Forests, including ours here in USFS region 3 (AZ and NM), our backcountry airstrips can be and are being used as staging areas for firefighting efforts. As of this writing, there’s a new fire burning in the Strawberry/Pine area and an associated TFR west of Payson.
While the roughly 224,000 acre Bush fire is in the mop up stages, the remaining extreme fire danger conditions on the Tonto has lead to it’s closure for the remainder of the summer. Our friend, District Ranger Jardine, contacted us to ask that we get the word out that Grapevine (88AZ), Red Creek, and Pleasant Valley (24AZ) are included in this closure. We’ll keep you posted as to the re-opening dates. Please check our Facebook site, website, and all available aviation information before using one of the backcountry airstrips.