The Payson Town Council was briefed on the Rodeo-Chediski Fire Thursday night.
"I think we're going to see some good improvement in the next few days. Of course the weather is still in charge; hopefully we will have the monsoon pattern pull in," Jim Payne, public information officer for the Payson Ranger District, told the council.
He reported the fire started heating up south of the OW Ranch Thursday, but did not go north to the OW or the Canyon Creek Fish Hatchery.
He said it also flared up a little bit to the east of there and blew the fire to the west, putting it southwest of Heber and Overgaard, but there was no threat to any buildings.
Payne said crews will continue the burnout along Highway 260 in an effort to eliminate fire-feeding fuel, and that will create most of the smoke visible from around Payson.
He said there are close to 4,000 firefighters on the fire now, along with more air tankers, engines and helicopters. He said the dispatch of personnel on the fire is setting a precedent. Normally there are maybe two teams assigned. The Rodeo-Chediski Fire has four Type 1 management teams, with decades of experience.
To provide more comprehensive information, he said better maps will be posted around town; there will be stations where people can go for details; and an information center will be established at the evacuation center. He invited anyone interested to come to the regular briefings at the evacuation center (the Rim Country Middle School). The briefings are at 9:30 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. daily.
Mayor Ken Murphy said some of the air operations are now based in Payson, including a temporary FAA air traffic control tower. He said the Payson Airport is the only one capable of supporting an operation of this size. Murphy added, the air operations here also provide extra protection in the event of a fire in this area.
To further prepare Payson area residents with critical information about the evacuation process, special packets are now available at the town hall.
The packet includes details about what to take and what to do in the event of an emergency evacuation.