Hualapai Mountain Park will remain closed due to the ongoing Flag Fire, county officials said Monday. And although an eventual reopening may be on the horizon, that reopening will take place in stages to prevent possible risk to the park’s visitors.
The Mohave County Board of Supervisors this week ratified an emergency declaration for the Hualapai Mountains issued last Monday, and ordered the temporary closing of Pine Mountain Park until the state of emergency has been lifted.
Although the fire is mostly contained, Mohave County Risk and Emergency Management Director Byron Steward says caution is warranted. Members of the county’s governing board have already received inquiries as to when the park will reopen, but that may not happen in the immediate future.
“You can get an outbreak a week or two weeks, or sometimes a month after the initial fire,” Steward said. “Once you get the smoldering inside of tree stumps, in downed trees and logs or in other areas, they could break out into open flame. It could create another fire situation if it gets into unburned areas.”
According to Steward, fire crews are now attempting to identify potential smoldering areas and mitigate them before another wildfire could occur. Steward says a potential reopening of Hualapai Mountain Park could come in stages, with trail systems closed to public use even after the park is opened once more.
Throughout the rest of Mohave County, Steward says the threat of wildfires may be high this year. According to his statements to board members on Monday, he plans to work with fire departments throughout the region to determine whether fire restrictions will be necessary, and what form those restrictions may take later this summer.
Pine Lake residents were permitted to return to their homes on Friday, after they were evacuated early last week at the outset of the fire. The Flag Fire has as of Monday consumed more than 1,200 acres of land in the area of Pine Lake, which was identified last month by state officials as one of the most at-risk areas in Arizona for potential wildfires to occur. Hualapai Mountain Park will remain closed to all other visitors, Steward said.
The Flag Fire was first reported April 25, at about 2 p.m. According to federal officials, the fire originated between the Flag Mine and Wild Cow Campground in the Hualapai Mountains, about 11 miles south of Kingman.
The cause of the fire remains under investigation as of this week.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, fire officials will continue to patrol the area by air and ground, and assess conditions along the fire’s edge as efforts remain underway to fully contain the ongoing blaze.
On Monday, the Mohave County Board of Supervisors also approved a grant application to the Arizona Department of Forestry and Fire Management. The $200,000 grant would be used to fund the removal of potential fuel for wildfires under the Fire Management Department’s Wildland Fire Hazardous Fuels Program.