Recent monsoon thunderstorms have produced little rain in the Rim country but plenty of headaches for Tonto National Forest firefighting crews.
Over the weekend, lightning started a 150-acre fire and at least 12 smaller fires in the Tonto and Pleasant Valley Ranger districts that are still smoldering or burning, Tonto National Forest Fire Information Officer Emily Garber said.
Most of the fires are less than one acre, have been contained and are being monitored by fire crews, Garber said.
By Tuesday morning, however, the Mogollon Fire northeast of Payson had burned about 150 acres and had not been contained.
After being reported on Saturday, the fire was first fought by engine and Hot Shot crews from the Payson and Pleasant Valley Ranger districts.
Later, a Native American Type-Two crew joined the firefight at the base of the Rim.
According to Garber, the crews are building a fire line encircling the south end of the blaze.
Officials are reluctant to call in air tankers because it's dangerous to fly missions that close to the bottom of the Rim, Garber said.
Monday night, a tongue of the fire burned over the Rim and into a southern portion of the Coconino National Forest where fire conditions are extreme.
At press time, a Hopi fire team and an engine crew from Coconino were fighting the blaze at the top of the Rim.
According to Garber, those crews performed a successful 25-acre burnout designed to contain the fire before it could spread farther north into the ponderosa forest.
"So far, (the fire fighting effort) is looking good ... it's not a major problem," Garber said.
However, the fire did create concerns among residents of Tonto Village, Mead's Ranch, Washington Park and Payson after smoke and the smell of burning embers filtered into the communities.
Payson Ranger District Fire Management Officer Bob Ortlund said the large plumes of smoke were created by the variety of timber and brush fueling the blaze.