Memorial Fire Briefly Closes Beeline


While the Payson Ranger District survived the Memorial Day weekend unscathed, two fires to the south caused brief closures of Highway 87 Monday.

The Memorial Fire started Monday afternoon and grew to 500 to 600 acres before it was brought under control.

The fire, along the Beeline Highway near Fountain Hills, closed the highway for an hour. After three Hotshot crews and several engines and helicopters were unable to stop its progress, four air tankers were called in.

"The biggest thing that made a difference is that we had four heavy air tankers, and they laid down a lot of retardant," Tonto National Forest Deputy Public Affairs Officer Vinnie Picard said. "We were able to stop its growth yesterday, it laid down last night, and we're mopping it up this morning." The cause is under investigation.

The Goldfield Fire occurred just up the Beeline Highway from the Memorial Fire at the intersection of the Bush and Beeline highways.

"It was 20-30 acres and then we did a lot of burning out," Picard said.

The Rim country was fortunate to avoid flare-ups during the long holiday weekend, according to Gary Roberts, Payson Ranger District fire prevention officer.

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