A half-acre blaze eight miles north of Strawberry was spotted by motorists on Highway 260 Monday night, including Josh McDaniel, a wildland firefighter from the Camp Verde District. He and three others hustled to scratch a line in the dirt around the creeping fire to keep it from growing.
At about 6:30 p.m. the Pine-Strawberry Fire Department dispatched six firefighters and three trucks carrying about 4,400-gallons of water and foam. A nearby contractor for the Forest Service hauled in another 6,000-gallons.
"We are just trying to keep it out of the trees," firefighter Lynn Larned said.
"This is too close to home," firefighter Bob Lashua said.
By 7:30 p.m. 45 firefighters were battling the tiny blaze.
"Thank God this was not a windy day," P-S Fire Chief Paul Coe said.
Fresh ATV tracks were seen at the south end of the fire in a small ravine, Larry Sears, District Ranger for the Mogollon Ranger District, said. There has been no lightning in the area. "This fire is human-caused and under investigation," he said.
If you have information about any fire or suspicious activity in the forest, you are urged to contact the Forest Service law enforcement divisions. In Payson, call (928) 474-7900.