Firefighters Mop Up Willow Hot Spots

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Containment of the Willow Fire remains at 95 percent as firefighters continue to mop up the final hot spots.

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Helicopters like this Kaman K-Max "Aerial Truck" are being used in the last stages of Willow Fire containment operations.

"For all intents and purposes, it's contained," Public Affairs Officer Jim Payne said. "(Incident Commander John Philbin) just wanted to be more conservative and not call it 100 percent contained."

As suppression operations wind down, the focus of Philbin's Central Arizona Zone Type 2 Incident Management Team is increasingly on rehabilitation.

"Rehab efforts are under way in nearly all of the north and eastern portions of the fire," Fire Information Officer Rick Hartigan said. "We're dealing with the line which has been cut, with the safety zones which were prepared, and the seeding process should be going on now."

Helicopter operations continue on the Willow Fire and do not indicate new fires in the area.

"We're still in the last stages of our operation," Hartigan said. "We're holding onto those helicopters to make sure we don't have to chase anything."

Helicopters are also being employed to use up the retardant prepared for the fire.

"They can't just dispose of it, so the best thing to do with it is to utilize it in its standard application," Hartigan said.

The retardant used to fight the Willow Fire is safe, Hartigan emphasized.

"A lot of people become concerned about the use of retardants," he said. "There's a lot of misconceptions going on about it.

"It is basically a fertilizer, a clay (an iron oxide that gives it the reddish color), and water. The benefits are that it retards the progress of the fire and, secondly, it provides a fertilizing effect for afterwards."

Pick up a copy of the Friday, July 16 Roundup for a scrapbook feature of Willow Fire photos.

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