Firefighters conducted limited burnouts last night in an attempt to thwart the Willow Fire from reaching Payson and other Rim country communities.
The burnouts were set along part of a line on the northeast portion of the fire about 1.5 miles from the town limits. The lightning-caused Willow Fire, which began Thursday, June 24, 17 miles from Payson is now within four miles of the town.
"We got a little bit started last night with our burnout, but the winds were a little bit heavier than we had hoped for," Southwest Incident Management Team commander Jeff Whitney said Wednesday morning.
Despite the proximity of the burnout to Payson, Whitney expressed confidence that firefighters will be able to protect the community.
"The fire has held in place, and we were able to complete our northeast line," he said. "We just need to get that burned out, and we hope to continue on that today."
The fire now stands at 32,000 acres and is 3 percent contained.
"We have about four miles burned out, but we've still got a tremendous amount of perimeter line we need to secure," Whitney said.