Second Wildfire Erupts On Firefighters

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As the Pack Rat Fire continues to grow, yet another lightning-caused blaze the National Fire has tripled in size.

The Pack Rat Fire, started by lightning on Aug. 15, stands at 200 acres and is 30 percent contained. The fire is burning eight miles east of Pine near Kehl Springs Campground on the Mogollon Rim.

The National Fire is burning approximately eight miles east of the Pack Rat Fire below Myrtle Point.

In steep, rocky and inaccessible terrain like the Pack Rat, the National Fire had grown to 50 acres by Thursday evening.

"It is one of 18 starts we had after the lightning on Monday night," said Brenda Straw, customer service representative for the Payson Ranger District. "It kind of took off on us (Wednesday) night from a single snag, to a half, to 15, and it just kept going."

While no structures are currently threatened by either fire, forest officials are using all available firefighting resources.

Currently 202 firefighters are assigned to the Pack Rat Fire along with three engines, two dozers, five water tenders, two skidders, one helicopter, and one air attack craft.

A drying trend has significantly increased the fire's growth potential, and there is heightened concern among firefighters about the fire's behavior.

"There is still a need for increased helicopter resources (to) supply larger and more frequent bucket drops," said Jeannie Gilbertson, a U.S. Forest Service spokesperson.

Roads closed due to the Pack Rat Fire include FR147 at FR308, FR300 at FR147, FR141 at FR141H, and FR300 at FR123.

Kehl Springs Campground is also closed.

Three 20-person crews and a helicopter have been assigned to the National Fire. The rest of the fires ignited Monday evening are either out or fully contained.

Officials from both the Coconino and Tonto national forests urged people to use extreme caution when visiting the forests.

"With the wind and our drying pattern, it's not looking like we're going to have any rain in the future," said Straw.

"We are still in very high fire danger."

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