Valentine Fire: The latest on the wildfire near the Mogollon Rim

By Michel Marizco
Published: Thursday, September 7, 2023 - 12:31pm
Updated: Wednesday, September 13, 2023 - 2:04pm

Smoke above a forest with a cloudy sky
View from Colcord Lookout Tower of the Valentine Fire in the Tonto National Forest on Aug. 25, 2023

Sept. 12: As the Valentine Fire slowly burns, Arizona looks back on a quiet fire season 

Crews continue to monitor the Valentine Fire, which has burned about 2,500 acres northeast of the community of Young on the Mogollon Rim.

A wet winter and cool spring left Arizona’s high country forests in good shape.

That also meant lots of growth in the state’s grasslands, which could have led to big blazes.

But the hottest part of the summer seems to have passed without any catastrophic wildfires.

And some fires, like the lightning-caused Valentine Fire, were allowed to burn.

"In general, I think this year, because of all the moisture on the ground, any fire starts that were in places that didn’t impact people or infrastructure, they allowed those fires to burn for ecological purposes," said Elvy Barton, water and forest sustainability manager with Salt River Project.

About 200 firefighters have been assigned to monitor the Valentine Fire.

Sept. 7: Valentine Fire burns 708 acres in Tonto National Forest; community meeting planned tonight

Trees on fire
The Valentine Fire in the Tonto National Forest on Aug. 25, 2023.

Forest Service officials will hold a community meeting at 6 p.m. today to give updates on the Valentine Fire burning on the Tonto National Forest. 

The Valentine Fire started with a lightning strike and has since been used to reintroduce fire into an area that hasn’t seen one in a half-century. The blaze has burned 708 acres so far, according to officials. An emergency closure in the fire’s area was issued earlier this week. 

Mike Reichling is a spokesman for the forest’s firefighting initiative. 

"So, it’s not a full scale as you would know, a wildfire, a forest fire that is running rampant and trying to put it out. It’s not that at all," he said.

Residents of Ponderosa Estates and Colcord Estates, the two neighborhoods closest to the fire, can receive updates at the meeting at the Christopher Creek church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints tonight.

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