Haze in Gila Valley is from California wildfires

Jon Johnson Photo/Gila Herald: The haze in the air is reportedly mostly from the smoke from California wildfires.

By Jon Johnson


GRAHAM COUNTY – Yes, a new wildfire erupted in the Coronado National Forest on Mount Lemmon yesterday, but the haze covering the Gila Valley is actually mostly from the wildfires that are currently burning in California.

According to the National Weather Service, the smoke in the air is mostly coming from the Getty Fire near Los Angeles, which has caused more than 3,000 evacuations. Easterly winds have pushed the smoke from California into Arizona and New Mexico. Fires in Baja California are also contributing to the smoke.

California is also battling a fire in the northern part of the state – the Kincade Fire in California’s Sonoma County – but that one isn’t contributing to the smoke here.

Adding to the problem is the Molino Fire, which was located in the Molino basin of Mount Lemmon near Tucson at about 3:30 p.m. on Sunday. The official cause is under investigation but witnesses reported seeing target shooters firing in the area just before the fire began. The shooters left and in a hurry and their casings were found at the spot. The Pima County Sheriff’s Office has corroborated the statements from witnesses.

While target shooting is allowed on National Forest land, shooting is not allowed that close to an occupied structure or highway and those caught doing so face possible fines into the thousands of dollars.

The fire is now reported to be more than 500 acres.

There are also two other fires that were started on Sunday in Arizona. The Homestead Fire is located in the Apache Sitgreaves National Forest, and the Antelope Fire, also in the Apaches Sitgreaves National Forest about four to six miles southwest of Vernon. No structures are threatened in either fire at this time and the cause remains under investigation.