by Jim Keyworth
roundup staff reporter
As it reached a peak of 7,500 acres Sunday night, rain moved in and doused the Pine Mountain Wilderness Fire near Camp Verde.
"Bits and pieces are still smoldering and there could be a flare-up or two, but it looks like it's over," Brenda Straw, customer service representative for the Payson Ranger District, said. The progress of the fire, referred to as the Pine Fire, had been slowed by an earlier rainfall Wednesday.
Fire managers from the Tonto and Prescott National Forests, who expected a drying trend over the weekend, were monitoring the fire closely when the rain moved in.
The fire began July 2 and grew to 450 acres by July 17.
As it continued to grow, firefighters used a low-key management strategy of confining it to natural barriers such as roads and rocky ridges. Even as the fire continued to grow and smoke levels increased, fire crews remained confident their strategy would prevail over a fire, Straw said.
Last Monday, firefighters used garden hoses to protect structures on the M.T. Ranch near Camp Verde.
Tuesday, helicopters were used to conduct a "burnout" on an Arizona Public Service wooden pole line on the eastern side of the fire to minimize any damage to the power lines, had the main fire burned through the area.
A prescribed burn by the Beaver Creek Ranger District of the Coconino National Forest produced smoke that was visible in the Rim country Saturday evening. Expected to encompass 4,000 acres of brush and chaparral in the Buzzard/Chalk Springs area 14 miles southeast of Camp Verde, Sunday night's rain snuffed the fire out at 2,500 acres.
The Payson Ranger District also conducted a prescribed burn Sunday in the Hunter Creek area, and has scheduled another small one for 11 a.m. today (Tuesday) west of Whispering Pines off Houston Mesa Road. "It's just some miscellaneous brush piles, but with the humidity there could be some smoke," Straw said.