Highway 134 goes through Narbona Pass on the Navajo Reservation and connects Sheep Springs, N.M., which is off U.S. Route 491, and Crystal, N.M., which is off Navajo Route 12. The SWIMT 3 closed 134 on June 16, 2014, because of the Assayii Lake Fire.
Fisk added that there are five main roads south of Highway 134 that continue to be closed and that will be manned by Navajo Nation police.
Everything on Highway 134 and north and east of Highway 134 is open, he said.
“Additionally on the east side of the fire, there are five road closures located close to the fire that we still have to maintain, not necessarily because the fire is still growing but because we have a lot of mop up work in here, a lot of traffic still,” Fisk said. “And we need to keep people out of there.”
He explained that road closure signs will be placed on roads 714, 705, ,720, and 703.
Fisk said that people still need to be careful as they travel into the areas east of Highway 134.
There are areas inside the fire perimeter where there are livestock and livestock owners must contact the Navajo Nation Emergency Operations Center to make arrangements to be escorted into the area, he emphasized.
Fisk reiterated that all such requests must go through the tribal emergency center and must include proof of ownership, branding cards, and other documents before livestock owners are allowed inside the fire perimeter.
SWIMT 3 Operations Chief Trainee Dave Gesser announced that the fire was 60 percent contained and at 14,712 acres, which was not because the fire grew but because the perimeter line was moved out to include a meadow that had a few hot spots.
Gesser said crews are cleaning the fire zone of hazardous trees or snags, digging up the roots of trees that burned down because the roots are smoldering and dangerous hot, and cleaning up fire lines that were made by dozers.
He added that a road group of firefighters was created to do rehab work on roads 8000, 8091 and 8093, which got “pretty beat up” from all the heavy firefighting traffic of water tenders, engines, dozers, fire crew buses, and other firefighting vehicles, before they are opened up to the public.
Fisk said that air operations wouldn’t be reporting but any questions could be answered by SWIMT 3 Commander Bea Day.
Day said that the last couple of days for the firefighters has been good, which is reflected by a lot of black fire perimeter lines on the fire map.
The black lines show where the fire is contained. Red lines show where the fire is not contained.
Day said that the firefighters really worked on containing the eastern portion of the fire because they know that that is the area where people were evacuated.
“So the crews worked hard so we could bring people into their homes,” she said.
Day emphasized that the western portion of the fire is still closed to the public because there is still a lot of firefighting activity, firefighting traffic and the fire.
The Southwest Incident Management Team 3 is working hard on getting the 8093 (road) open because we know that that is an access road for some families to their homes, she added.
Day said that firefighting resources, such as crews, dozers, engines and air support, are being demobilized daily as containment of the fire increases.
“You should see us here for the next week,” she said. “We are looking at the next organization coming in…We are planning on having smaller organization that it is still going to be tied to this fire because there’s still a lot of what we call islands of unburned fuels inside the fire so you are going to see some smoke periodically still coming from the fire until we get some good moisture on it. So we still need to keep an eye on this fire. And that’s why we’re bringing in a smaller organization.”
Day noted that the Southwest Incident Management Team 3 probably wouldn’t get all the “suppression rehah’ completed by the time it demobilizes and so this smaller organization will complete that.
She said some of the people working with the SWIMT 3 have probably heard about BAER – Burn Area Emergency Rehab.
BAER is focused on the very long term rehabilitation of the area impacted by the Assayii Lake Fire and it works as a team, which means that it will probably be conducting similar public updates, Day said.
Day once again ended her update with a thank you to the Navajo Reservation communities for their support.
The Southwest Incident Management Team 3 released additional information about more road openings in the following June 22, 2 p.m. PRESS RELEASE:
As of 2:00 p.m. June 22, 2014 fire officials extended road openings in the areas east and north of the Assayii Lake Fire. Highway 134 and all areas to the north are open. The five access roads south of Highway 134 continue to be closed due to firefighter and public safety.
Access to the east of Highway 491 is open. Specific areas (see below) to the west of Highway 491 have opened. As of 2 p.m. today, 3 road closures have been pushed west to expand the open areas. Changes to earlier road closures include:
– Roads 703 and 720 are now open to the Intersection of 703, 720 and the FOBS road.
– Road 700 is now open to the intersection of Roads 700 and 706.
– Road 707 is now open to the intersection of Roads 707 and 706.
The areas adjacent to the fire area remain closed. Due to continued high levels of fire traffic, the public must not travel beyond any road closure signs. Heavy Law Enforcement presence will be in the area to control the closures.
Anyone moving livestock in or out of the fire area must go through the Navajo Nation Emergency Operations Center process for their approval and may only access with an escort. Please contact the Emergency Operations Center at: (505) 371-8406.
For additional information, photos, and maps please visit www.facebook.com/AssayiiLakeFire and www.inciweb.nwcg.gov.
The following information is from a Navajo Nation Emergency Operations Center press release:
The Assayii Lake Fire is now 60 percent contained and the Southwest Incident Management Team #3 lifted some road restrictions for public access.
As of Sunday morning Highway 134, from Crystal to Sheepsprings and all access roads to the north are open for public use. All roads south of 134 are still restricted unless listed below, as law enforcement will be on hand to control closures:
– 6690 Road south of Highway 134 is open, but cannot travel west of the 708 Road back to Highway 491, and east of 6690 Road. There was a rumor circulating that east of 6690 Road was closed but that is not true.
– 705 and 714 Roads are open up to the beginning of the Ponderosa Pines but there is no access beyond because fire crews are working in that area.
– 691 Road is open and the 701 Road is open until 720 Road Intersection, where travel is allowed south to 703 Road but not west of 720 Road.
– Travel is prohibited west of the 701 Road on the 703 Road. The public can travel the Loop back east to the 491 Road. All roads east of these locations are open to homeowners only.
The public is encouraged not to travel beyond the roads listed above for their safety reasons. Heavy law enforcement patrols will be present to enforce road restrictions.
For livestock assistance please call 928-206-2188 to coordinate with the Navajo Nation Emergency Operations Center and the SW IMT#3 for an escort.
For more information please call the Navajo Nation Emergency Management Operations Command Center at 505-371-8416/8415/8417 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org