Monday brings red flag warning, grounding air operations fighting Bighorn Fire

Bighorn Fore growing due to high winds

TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - The Bighorn Fire growing to more than 107,000 acres, the fight Monday will just be holding the lines.

Another windy day Monday, and another red flag warning issued by The National Weather Service—the third to impact the fire since it started on June 5.

“We have to hold onto what we already have, that’s the big challenge on a windy day,” said Mike Cole, a spokesperson for the incident command team.

The fire continuing to move toward Redington Road and toward the east, catching dry grass and shrub fuels. Experts say this can make fire spread quicker as those types of fuels ignite and burn easily. Helicopter operations had to be grounded around 4pm Monday due to high winds, and authorities say many of the efforts by aircraft are suppressed or blown away during windy days.

“Sometimes people say, ‘Why aren’t you using retardant on a windy day,’ and I tell them because all we’d be doing is putting on a show,” said Cole

Don Falk, professor at the University of Arizona, said the energy from large wildfires, like the Bighorn Fire, is similar to tsunamis or even nuclear weapons.

“The same level of energy released by a wildfire is on the same magnitude is like a nuclear weapon. It’s just an extraordinary amount of energy,” said Falk.

At 45 percent containment, and burning more than three weeks, it might be a while, he said, before there is any relief. Mother Nature will have to help.

“In general, the really big fires that start here in the southwest, they’re not extinguished until the monsoon,” said Falk. “I really doubt we’ll see an end to (the Bighorn Fire) until the monsoon arrives.”

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