Baker Burn II 06/09/2003
This project was five years in the planning process due to the complexities in the development of a Peloncillo Programmatic Burn Plan to cover approximately 25% of MBG planning area. Baker Burn II had to be split off from the programmatic plan so it could be implemented. Much of what is learned from Baker Burn II will be reflected on the programmatic plan as it is completed.
Baker Burn II was initially planned for ignition in the late spring of 2002. However, competition for fire resources initially was a problem followed by a Fire Preparedness IV regulation being placed over the entire southwest due to continued drought conditions. This situation meant no controlled burns can be ignited.
Thanks to the hard work and commitment by the Coronado National Forest Supervisor’s Office and the Douglas Ranger District, Baker Burn II became a reality in the late spring of 2003. However, on Monday morning, June 9, 2003, two last minute problems nearly stopped the project.
The first was difficulty in finding find a Type I Incident Commander, which was required for a burn of this complexity. We were fortunate that U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service stepped up to support Butch Wilson from Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge to take charge of this project. The second problem was coordination with officials from the Mexican Government. They were concerned about lighting fire right along the international border. This resulted in last minute burn plan modifications to be sensitive to these issues. The Mexican Government made available a sky crane helicopter that was fitted with a 1,600 gallon water tank positioned at Douglas Municipal Airport for the duration of the burn, in case additional air support was needed. It should also be noted that they generously provided the aircraft at no cost to the project.
That same afternoon began Day 1 of Baker Burn II with the initial briefing and project review for all the firemen involved in doing the work.
Black lining activities and ignitions were implemented on Day 2 through Day 6. Day 7 was devoted to holding activities with no additional ignitions. From that time until Day 9, only monitoring activities were required. On the afternoon of Day 9, the entire project area received from .10 to .25 of an inch of rain. The following day, June 18, 2003, the fire was declared officially out. The result was a letter-perfect burn. The modified plan perimeter resulted in a project size of 47,645 acres of rough mountainous terrain down to open plains. The project area is a complex of land ownership with 44% of the area in Arizona and 56% of the area in New Mexico, and including 23% private, 21% state, and 56% federal land. This is the largest known prescribed burn ever accomplished in the United States.