The Willow Fire, now just eight miles southwest of Payson in the Tonto National Forest's Mazatzal Wilderness Area, was estimated to be 22,000 acres in size Monday afternoon.
Helicopters continue drawing water from Payson's Green Valley Lake to fight the blaze, which started Thursday evening, June 24, from a lightning strike. Burning operations were conducted Sunday until midnight, when fire conditions changed caused the firing operations to stop.
The Southwest Area Type 1 Incident Management Team, led by Jeff Whitney, assumed management of the fire at 6 p.m. Sunday.
Current resources on the fire include thirteen Type 1 Hotshot crews, two air attack planes, three type 1 helicopters, one medium helicopter, one type three helicopter, two air attack planes, and four dozers.
There is no immediate threat to Payson or other communities. Payson Ranger District Fire Prevention Officer Gary Roberts said he didn't expect the fire to reach the Payson area.
"We never want to say never -- we don't want to do that -- but the chance is remote," Roberts said.
"It is a very active fire, and we're experiencing things on this fire that we don't normally see. The fire came up North Peak (Saturday) night and that's where it is right now."
The fire will continue to put up significant columns of smoke today.
The Type 1 Incident Management Team has set up a Fire Information Center for the media at Payson High School. More information will be kept current on the team website located at: www.fireteam-sw.com/whitney/ or contact can be made with the team via e-mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org