Erratic winds and extremely dry fuels continue to hamper containment efforts on the Edge Complex Fire.
As of late Friday, the fire had consumed more than 65,000 acres between Tonto Basin and Sunflower.
The fast-burning blaze forced the closure of Highway 87 for 10 hours during the day Friday. By late Friday evening authorities reopened the highway but warned travelers it could close again at any time during the weekend.
"The fire is actually backing down in its surge toward Sunflower, and they're waiting for the relative humidity to get high enough, which normally happens this time of day," Sandi Ault, fire information officer, said. "Then they're going to backburn a five mile strip along the highway to keep the fire from spotting across the highway any further."
Highway 188 is reopened and residents evacuated from Tonto Basin were allowed to return to their homes Friday evening. Sunflower remains evacuated. The emergency shelter that was set up at Julia Randall Elementary School in Payson has been moved to the Payson High School Wilson Dome to accommodate Sunflower residents.
The communications site atop Mt. Ord is also threatened.
"We had hotshot crews there doing structure protection and pulled them out when the fire hit a trigger point for their safety," Ault said.
Jeff Whitney's Type 1 Incident Management Team has arrived and assumed control of firefighting operations at 6 p.m. Friday.
For up to date highway closure and restriction information, visit
www.az511.com or call 511 or 1-888-ROAD (7623).
For fire information call (480) 357-8138.