Coon Fire 50-Percent Contained


Nine of the 16 fire crews battling the Coon Creek Fire 13 miles northeast of Roosevelt Lake in the Sierra Ancha wilderness were sent home Thursday.

Tom Mott, fire information officer for the Tonto National Forest in Phoenix, said only the most skilled crews have remained to work in what he described as steep terrain and terrible conditions.

As of Friday morning, seven Hot Shot crews remained and three air tankers and six helicopters were on call to fight the blaze that has so far scorched 6,659 acres and cost $3.26 million.

"The fire is 50-percent contained, but there's no end in sight," Mott said. "Wind speeds are 12 to 25 mph and it's still hot and dry."

He said Forest Service investigators uncovered information that shows the fire was started by an improperly constructed campfire. The fire was first reported April 26.

Of 574 people fighting the fire, only nine reported minor injuries and five of those returned to continue fighting the fire after getting medical treatment.

Mott said two people suffered bruises after being knocked down by a load of water from an air tanker. "It could have been much worse," Mott said. "These are pretty tough people."

Helicopter bucket drops continue to support the remaining crews on the north end of the fire, but some isolated areas along steep bluffs on the eastern edge of the blaze where fuel is sparse and soil is rocky, will be allowed to burn.

Mott said there is no long-range estimation of the cost of controlling the blaze.

The public is prohibited from going into the fire area between State Road 288 and Forest Road 203. Travelers going into Globe from State Route 60 will see signs warning them of traffic delays.

Arizona Department of Transportation crews will be removing overhanging rocks in an area two miles west of Miami.

Travelers can expect one-hour delays in the area for the next two weeks.

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