Rim Fire Contained At 2,500 Acres

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Andy Towle/Roundup - atowle@payson.com

Firefighters Thursday declared the unruly Rim Fire 100 percent contained in a 2,500-acre cage between the Highline Trail and Forest Road 300.

The fire burned through a thick tract of brush and trees scorched 20 years ago by the massive Dude Fire.

A dozen other fires continue to burn elsewhere in Rim Country on Friday, but rain on Thursday had dampened them all.

None have threatened structures.

The Rim Fire started with a lightning strike on July 20, it smoldered and smoked for weeks, then blew up last Friday when 50-mile-per-hour winds expanded it almost overnight by more than 1,000 acres.

The fire jumped Forest Road 300 on top of the Rim in several places, but crews used a network of roads as firebreaks and kept it from spreading.

Even so, the Rim Fire was never more than a smoke smudge next to the Dude Fire, which roared through the same area in 1990, said Tonto National Forest firefighter Dan Eckstein, who fought them both.

The Dude Fire burned through in the midst of a June heat wave, after a drought-plagued winter had made the fuels tinder dry. The fire raced through the treetops in such a lethal rush that it trapped and killed a crew of firefighters.

By contrast, the Rim Fire mostly crawled through remains of the trees killed 20 years ago and the brush that had grown back since. Instead of threatening communities like Whispering Pines below the Highline Trail, the Rim Fire cleared away enough brush to effectively add to a fire buffer zone around those Rim communities.

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