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Tonto Forest to begin prescribe burn treatments in Pine area

Arizona’s milder autumn temperatures spell relief from the heat for many Arizona residents, but the cooler weather means something else in the high country.

For Tonto National Forest, fall is frequently a good time to start prescribed burn treatments.

Much of Arizona’s forests have a fuel buildup, which can lead to catastrophic wildfire, and so land managers use small fires to reduce the amount of fuel.

Gary Roberts, a spokesman for Tonto National Forest, says local residents used to get upset during the burns but that has changed.

“I get an entirely different response than I did 20 years ago," Roberts said. "People are always like, ‘when are you getting over to our area? Man, we can’t wait until you get there.’”

Smoke may be visible in the area for about a week as foresters treat about 1,200 acres near the Backbone Fire scar and about 160 acres near Pine.

Ron Dungan was a senior field correspondent at KJZZ from 2020 to 2024.