Lightning-Caused Fire Uncontained


The looming monsoon season means relief is on the way for extreme fire conditions in the Rim Country.

But, until the rain starts pouring, the increased storm activity brings forth a new fire danger -- lightning.


Hunter Scott and Byron Quinlan pack a helicopter for a trip to the Scrabble Fire. In the background, Zak Romero changes into fire gear.

Lightning ignited 10 fires in the Tonto National Forest in the last several days. One fire remains uncontained, as of Monday.

The Scrabble Fire burned 165 acres, about 13 miles southwest of Pine, near Hardscrabble Canyon in the Mazatzal Wilderness.

It began around 1:15 p.m. Saturday and is 0 percent contained.

The fire is burning a mixture of fuel types, including pinyon pine, juniper, brush and grass.

Tammy Pike, Tonto fire information officer, said that despite the fire's unbridled reign, it is not a top-priority fire because of the terrain where it is burning.

"We don't consider it to be a threat at this time," she said. Less than 50 fire personnel are battling the blaze, including one Type 1 hotshot crew and six smokejumpers from New Mexico.

Steve Webb, manager of the Phoenix interagency dispatch center, said that the use of smokejumpers is a first in the Tonto National Forest.


A helicopter, piloted by Mike Doster, lifts off to bring supplies and water to crews fighting the Scrabble Fire.

"The inaccessibility of this terrain has made this necessary," he said.

Two helicopters were called to help in the effort, but one has since been released. The large tanker helicopter stationed at the Payson Municipal Airport is still on alert to help with the fire, Pike said.

No structures are in jeopardy, and no restrictions have been ordered.

Another, smaller fire that originated from a lightning strike on Saturday, was completely contained by Sunday night.

The Myrtle Fire started about 3:40 p.m. Saturday near Myrtle Point Mesa on the Mogollon Rim, 13 miles northeast of Payson. It reached two acres before crews had it contained, Pike said.

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