Update On 'Three Fire' Near Tonto Basin And Punkin Center


With the arrival of more crews and other resources, firefighters were able to make progress on the Three Fire despite the strong winds that had been predicted. Crews are continuing to prepare for possible burnout operations along El Oso Road and other key points in the complex.

Assessment of the Three-Bar cabin area found that defensive actions taken by firefighters saved all of the structures and equipment except for a storage shed.

The Four Fire, also part of the Three Fire Complex, showed significant fire activity in the afternoon largely due to strong winds. The fire made a run toward Big Saddle just west of Four Peaks.

"Wind events like we've experienced this weekend are a huge concern for firefighters," said Stewart Turner, Fire Behavior Analyst for the Arizona Central West Zone Incident Management Team managing the Three Fire Complex. "Strong winds not only push flames that increase the fire size, but they can also make fire behavior very erratic and unpredictable. Once it gets up and goes, it's going to go fast."

Cholla Campground has become the fire base camp and remains closed to the public. All other recreation facilities on Roosevelt Lake are open.

For more information on the Three Fire and other fires burning on the Tonto National Forest, check the Forest Service website at www.fs.fed.us/r3/tonto.

Three Fire Statistics:

Acres: 19,370 acres

Start date: Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Cause: Lightning

Location: 6.5 miles northwest of Roosevelt Dam

Containment: 15%

Fuels: Grass, desert scrub, chaparral, ponderosa pine

Terrain: Steep, mountainous slopes

Cost: $429,000

Threats: Bald eagle nesting area and spotted owl habitat, State Route 188, major developed recreation facilities on Roosevelt Lake, Salt River Project solar repeater sites, the Amethyst mine and potential threat to communities of Tonto Basin and Punkin Center

Resources: 8 crews, 19 engines, 9 water tenders, 357 total personnel

Available air support: 5 helicopters

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