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Arizona residents have burning questions about fires for forest officials

PHOENIX — Residents in a northern Arizona town were expecting to get answers from forest officials about all the smoke from recent fires that has clouded their skies for weeks.

Coconino National Forest staffers will meet with locals Wednesday evening. The office has fielded numerous complaints about the smoke from three fires that have been burning.

Area media was encouraging residents to contact the agency about how the smoke was impacting their lives.

The smoke and fire suppression efforts have closed roads and recreational areas and effected visibility on Interstate 17 near Munds Park and left haze from Sedona to Verde Valley.

Lightning strikes in May caused the Jack Fire, Mormon Fire and Cowboy Fire. Since then, forest officials have let the fires burn out on their own.

In a note on its website, the agency said the Jack Fire, which forced closure of Arizona Trail in the Happy Jack area, was “being managed for multiple objectives to benefit forest health and reduce wildfire risks.”

On its site, the service wrote:

The meeting is an opportunity for the public to ask questions and learn about the decision-making process, limiting factors when managing fires and the different values that are taken into account when managing wildfires.

The Mormon Fire began burning May 15, about 6 miles east of Munds Park, it was 75 percent contained as of Tuesday; Jack Fire began burning May 21, along Forest Roads 294 and 294C; Cowboy Fire began burning May 17. The fire was not expected to grow, so it was only being monitored as of June 4.

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