The fire remains at about 5 percent containment according to the U.S. Forest Service.
The smoke in the Gila Valley is the result of an “inversion,” that’s when a warm layer of air settles above a cooler layer below. The air above traps the air below it, preventing the smoke from dissipating. Forest Service officials said the duration of the inversion cannot be predicted.
The Oak fire was ignited by lightning June 17 and is burning brush and timber. As a result, the Forest Service has closed part of the mountain close to the fire. The closed area begins at Bottle Canyon to Power’s Hill; Rattle snake Creek, south and east to Holdout Spring; along the East Divide Trail and Paddy’s River to the Forest Boundary; all enclosed by the Forest Boundary to the east and north.
According to Coronado National Forest Communications Officer Heidi Schewel, the Safford Ranger District is managing the blaze with a Wildland Fire Module (a skilled eight-person hand crew), seven engines, a BLM wildland fire crew of four and one helicopter. The fire is expected to grow to the south and west of the China Peak, and the burn pattern is mosaic.
According to an update by Schewel, “The fire is being managed within a planned area boundary using strategy and tactics necessary to minimize impacts to sensitive areas and values at risk while maximizing benefits to natural resources.” For continued updates of the status of the fire visit inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/3901/.