Lightning started fire still burning near Pine, Stawberry area

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HAPPY JACK - The following is a press release from the U.S. Department of Agriculture:

The Point Fire, that was started by lightning and first sighted on Sunday, May 31, 2009, is approximately 80 acres in size. The fire is located on Milk Ranch Point in the Coconino National Forest. It is being managed by 70 fire personnel from the Coconino and Tonto National Forests, and the Pine-Strawberry Fire Department for resource benefit and to reduce catastrophic wildfire danger to the communities of Pine and Strawberry.

Fire specialists from the Coconino are employing tactical actions to manage the Point Fire within a predetermined area that is defined by geographical features. The entire Milk Ranch Point area is officially closed to entry until rescinded.

Fire experts for several days have "prepped" along the western edge of Milk Ranch Point and along Forest Road 218 and will continue to implement extensive fire management safeguards in anticipation of conducting a burn-out operation in a predetermined area on Saturday, June 6, 2009 if favorable weather permits. Prep work is essential for conducting an efficient and safe burn-out operation.

Residents and visitors to the area can expect to see a significant column of smoke develop during each day of the fire management operation as the fire grows to about 300 acres in size on Saturday and to about 600 acres in size on Sunday, June 7. Diurnal air flow will move smoke into the areas of Pine and Strawberry in the evening hours.

Other fires on the Mogollon Ranger District that are being managed for resource benefit include the Tucker Fire that is located approximately eight miles south of the Mogollon Rim/Blue Ridge Ranger Station and is currently 40 acres in size.

Resources assigned to the fire management operation include four engines, two hotshot crews, one fuel crew, one dozer, one line medic, one safety officer, and miscellaneous fire personnel.