Forest Fire Burns West Of Payson

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The views to the west and northeast of Payson will be clouded with smoke this week.

To the west, a wildfire that started July 2 in the Pine Mountain Wilderness near Camp Verde is now visible from Payson. Prescott Forest officials are monitoring the 450-acre fire daily from airplane and horseback, but are allowing it to burn.

"No structures are in danger," Verde Ranger fire prevention officer Paul Maubach said, "and it's not doing any serious resource damage, so we're letting it burn out the understory."

The fire, which more than doubled in size between Saturday and Monday, will be allowed to burn itself out unless it threatens a riparian area or escapes the boundary of the wilderness, Maubach said. Right now, it's about three miles from the boundary, he said.

Northeast of Payson, forestry crews sparked a prescribed burn Monday west of Ellison Creek Estates to thin about 80 acres of underbrush and protect area homes against wildfire. The prescribed fire, which is one of four planned by the U.S. Forest Service this summer, is expected to burn until Friday.

If temperatures, humidity levels and wind speeds remain at safe levels, Tonto Forest officials also plan to start prescribed burns in:

the Whispering Pines, Rim Trail and Verde Glen areas in late July and early August;

the Camp Geronimo area in late July and early August;

the Christopher Creek and Hunter Creek areas in late August and September.

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