About 100 Tonto Basin residents were evacuated Thursday as the northeast corner of the Edge Complex Fire approached.
The fire, which had consumed 33,597 acres by late Thursday morning, was ignited July 16 by a lightning strike 14 miles north of Apache Junction. Strong winds Wednesday afternoon pushed the fire within three miles of Punkin Center and Tonto Basin.
Included in the evacuation is the area west and south of Highway 188, from the old Lauth's Grocery store, up to and including Walnut Springs subdivision. Fire crews are conducting back burn operations to protect structures, but the voluntary evacuation was implemented because the fire is flanking the area and there is a low probability of containment.
A shelter has been opened at Julia Randall Elementary School at 902 W. Main Street in Payson.
See the Friday edition of the Payson Roundup for complete details, including a firsthand account by a Tonto Basin resident.
For more information on the Edge Complex Fire, and other fires burning in the southwest region, visit www.fs.fed.us/r3/fire/information/information.htm.