Fire officials are hoping to minimize or possibly even eliminate closing Highway 87, depending on how successful suppression operations are on the southeast portion of the Willow Fire today.
"The best scenario is that the operations plan today goes great and we don't have to do anything to 87," Liaison Officer James Clawson said.
The scope of the closure has already changed.
"If (the burnout) doesn't succeed today, and we have to start burning from 87, we're going to move the roadblock down to 188 and we'll pilot the local folks from about Rye to 188," Clawson said. "So anybody needing to go to work in Tonto Basin and Globe can go through. There might be some delays, but Deer Creek, Gisela, and Rye residents and all the others in there will be able to come and go to Payson as needed."
Operations Section Chief Roy Hall reported Monday morning that the fire was fairly calm Sunday.
"The main part of the fire that was closest to Payson has been secured and that looks very, very good," Hall said. "We feel a lot better about Payson today."
The north and west sides of the fire are in good shape, leaving the southeast corner above Deer Creek as the primary area of concern.
"We're trying to preclude this fire getting seeded into Deer Creek," he said.
As of 11 a.m. Monday, the fire stood at 84,300 acres and is 15 percent contained. An uninhabited cabin is the only structure that has been lost to date.
(For more information about the Willow Fire, check out the Tuesday edition of the Payson Roundup at Rim country newstands)
Watch this website and the Southwest Area Type 1 Incident Management Team website.
Current Willow Fire Status:
Acres Involved: 84,300