Wildfires Plague High Country


Back-to-back fires along Highway 87 last week left 192 acres of Tonto National Forest badly charred. The cause of both fires is still under investigation, but officials believe both were human caused.

Outside of Payson, the Schultz and Paradise Fires still rage while crews have managed to snuff the Eagle Rock Fire, northeast of Williams. Along Highway 87, the Corral Fire started Saturday in a remote, hilly area, 36 miles south of Payson.

Thanks to an aggressive fire response, the fire was extinguished quickly and contained to five acres, said Devin Haynie, incident commander.

“Tankers worked this hard and did really well to get a quick handle on the fire,” Haynie said. The timely response of the Ruby Mountain Hotshot crew from Elko, Nev., who was prepositioned in Mesa, was great, he added.

As of Monday, one Hotshot crew continued patrolling the perimeter and extinguishing any hot spots along the fire’s edge.

Farther south, the 187-acre Sycamore Fire was also extinguished over the weekend.

The Sycamore Fire started Thursday afternoon between mileposts 208 and 210, in the Mesquite Wash area north of Fountain Hills.

ADOT and DPS closed the highway overnight Thursday because of blowing smoke. No structures were threatened in either fire and no one was injured.

The Paradise Fire, located 16 miles southeast of Alpine, is still burning with 340 personnel on scene. The lightning-caused fire started June 7 and has already burned 6,355 acres. On Sunday, firefighters working hot spots in the Grant Creek drainage had to pull back due to lightning.

On Monday, firefighters worked to secure a western perimeter and the Grand Creek area.

Along with six Hotshot crews, one helicopter, five engines and three water tenders are on scene.

The Eagle Rock Fire, 11 miles northeast of Williams, was 100 percent contained at 3,420 acres Monday. Fire managers say lightning caused the blaze. An area around the fire remains closed to entry until further notice.

“Many hazards are present such as smoldering stump holes, weakened trees, and rolling rocks and logs. Crews will continue to patrol the fire on a regular basis,” said Punky Moore, fire information officer.

The largest fire still burning in Arizona is the 15,075-acre Schultz Fire outside of Flagstaff.

An abandoned campfire started the fire June 20 four miles north of Flagstaff.

On Tuesday, the fire was 75 percent contained with 626 personnel still battling flames. Cost to date for the fire is nearly $7 million.

Travel restrictions on lands, roads and trails within the vicinity of the San Francisco Peaks remain in effect. Recreationists are reminded to stay out of the closure area. Within the closure area, Bonito Campground is open with the O’Leary group site, near Sunset Crater, reopening July 1. 

Fire restrictions remain in effect in the Kaibab, Tonto, Coconino, Kaibab and Prescott National Forests.


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