Willow Fire Status And Highway Closure Update

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The following information is the latest update from the Type 1 Southwest Incident Management Team led by Jeff Whitney:

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Jeff Whitney
Incident Team Commander

Yesterday (Wednesday) was a busy but successful day. The Type 1 team provided support to the Tonto National Forest crews during the Ponderosa Fire, which occurred east of Payson. The quick response of 3 Hotshot crews, 4 dozers and several aircraft enabled crews to keep the fire contained.

The East Verde River and west flank of the fire are holding well. The fire went into Deer Creek and burnt the remaining island within the perimeter of the fire near Table Mountain. Fire whirls with 50 to 60 mph winds caused embers to cross Highway 87. These embers resulted in 3 spot fires; however the crews were successful in building fire lines around these burns.

Continued burnouts Wednesday night eliminated the need to decommission the 345 KV power lines that are located southeast of Highway 87. The burnout enabled Arizona Public Service to keep supplying power to Phoenix thus reducing the chance of having power outages. At 9 a.m. the 345 KV power line will be decommissioned from Highway 87/188 to Slate Creek Divide prior to peak demand to allow for burnout operations.

Highway 87 will remain closed from the Highway 188 Junction to the intersection of Bush Highway/Saguaro Lake turn off. The closures will be determined on a day-by-day basis as burnout operations progress.

Alternate Routes are as follows:

  • Highway 87 north from Payson, to Highway 260 West to Camp Verde. From there you can travel north or south on Interstate 17.
  • Highway 260 east to Show Low. Then south on Highway 60 to Globe. From there you may travel east on Highway 70 to Safford, or west on Highway 60 to Mesa and Phoenix.
  • From the Highway 87/188 Junction, motorists will be required to travel to Globe and take Highway 60. From there you may travel east on Highway 70 to Safford, or west on Highway 60 to Mesa and Phoenix.

Official Fire Statistics as of this Post:

Acres: 101,500
Start Date: June 24, 2004
Cause: lightning
Location: 4 miles SW of Payson; 10 miles S of Pine/Strawberry
Containment: 25%
Fuels: Timber, grass, and chaparral
Terrain: Extreme rough terrain
Valued Threatened Resources: East Verde watershed, threatened & endangered species, and cultural features
Cost: $6,818,000
Total Personnel: 769
Crews: 13 Hotshot crews, 4 Type 2 crews
Equipment: 30 engines, 5 dozers, 13 water tenders
Air Support: 4-heavy (Type 1), 2-medium (Type 2), and 1-light (Type 3) helicopters

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