Grand Canyon fire stands at 10,000 acres despite heavy winds

GRAND CANYON NATIONAL PARK, Ariz. - Winds gusting to 50 mph Tuesday grounded helicopters trying to fight a 10,000-acre wildfire north of the Grand Canyon.

The fire was 43 percent contained, but winds pushed it northeast through the Kaibab National Forest, making it ''virtually impossible'' to fight the fire by air, said Vicki Allred, a spokeswoman for Grand Canyon National Park.

The Outlet fire, which began as a 1,500-acre prescribed burn on April 25, was driven out of control by high winds a week ago. The prescribed fire was designed to help rejuvenate forested areas and prevent future wildfires.

The blaze did not immediately threaten any structures and would not do so as long as it continued moving north. But as a precautionary measure, dry brush has been removed around the developed areas, Allred said.

About 900 firefighters and support personnel battled the fire Tuesday afternoon.

The South Rim of the Grand Canyon, the side on which the vast majority of visitors go, remained open.

Firefighters expect to reassess the area Wednesday, after the winds calm, Allred said.

Elsewhere, firefighters are reaching full containment on a 9,300-acre wildfire in the Tonto National Forest.

The Coon Creek fire about 30 miles north of Globe was 85 percent contained Tuesday and should be fully contained within the week, said forest spokesman Jim Payne.

The number of firefighters had been reduced to fewer than 70 as crews were sent to the Grand Canyon and to battle a fire that destroyed 260 homes in Los Alamos, N.M.

''The fire line is really cool and now we are just trying to maintain it,'' Payne said. ''There are only a few hot spots left.''

Additional restrictions are also being imposed in northern Arizona. Use of chainsaws was prohibited between 9 a.m. and 8 p.m. in the Coconino and Kaibab national forests.

And effective Friday, Bill Williams Mountain was to be closed to the public to protect the watershed for the city of Williams.

Campfire and smoking restrictions were imposed last week.


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