Ponderosa Fire Update: Crews Mopping Up

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Smoke from the Ponderosa Fire billows into the air Wednesday near the Thompson Draw area, about 12 miles east of Payson off Highway 260.

The Ponderosa Fire, which started at 11 a.m. Wednesday near the Ponderosa campground, has destroyed 140 acres and is nearly contained.

"Five crews are currently working to mop up the area and prevent any new fires from flaring up," said Fire Information Officer Emily Garber.

The fire burned seven APS poles to the ground and melted some Qwest communication lines, affecting the power and telephone use of 2,000 nearby residents.

APS manager Jan Parsons said power was restored to the area at 5:30 a.m.

The Gila County Sheriff's Department evacuated 250 residents of Thompson Draw.

Pre-evacuation notices had also been given to Christopher Creek, Kohl's Ranch and Bear Flat Communities.

Evacuees were allowed back to their homes at 7 p.m. Wednesday.

The fire along East 260 forced the closure of the highway as firefighters worked to control the blaze.

Fire officials redirected resources from the Willow Fire to stop the blaze from spreading.

The fire did not destroy any homes or structures.

A Red Cross shelter was set up at Rim Country Middle School, but with no current evacuee advisories, American Red Cross Grand Canyon Chapter closed the shelter at 304 South Meadow in Payson, effective 4:30 pm today (Thursday).
Red Cross staff and volunteers remain poised and prepared to respond quickly to provide assistance, should the need re-occur.

Watch for a more detailed report and photographs in the printed copy of the Friday Payson Roundup.

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