The two wildfires burning closest to Payson have behaved themselves this week, despite continued “red flag” conditions.
The Sunflower Fire remains at about 16,000 acres, but is now 43 percent contained. Only 84 firefighters continue to monitor the borders of the fire, located about 21 miles south of Payson.
Although smoke from the fire remained ominous from Payson to Sunflower, the fire remained trapped between two previous burns. The flames continue to consume pockets of thick brush
and chaparral in the Mazatzal Wilderness, but firefighters don’t think it can escape its confinement.
The Forest Service did add an extra 20-person crew on Thursday to strengthen fire lines preventing the spread of the fire to the north in the one corridor of thick brush open between the area thinned by brush fires five or six years ago.
The hot, windy weather continued to pose the risk of a flare up and will probably ensure a smoky weekend across much of Rim Country.
Several other fires continue to burn throughout the region, including:
Bull Flat Fire
On May 10, lightning sparked the 2,145-acre fire 20 miles northwest of Cibecue on the White Mountain Apache Reservation. The blaze is now 95 percent contained, although it continues to flare and smolder in piles of logs and debris left behind 10 years ago by the Rodeo-Chediski Fire. Crews are no longer actively fighting the fire, although they expect logs will continue to smolder for days or weeks.
This 16,000-acre, human-caused fire forced the evacuation of Crown King and remains only 30 percent contained, with 1,146 firefighters still trying to mop up the fire and ensure that it doesn’t flare up to once again threaten the small rural community. The fire on Friday continued to burn along the Senator Highway, as fire crews scrambled to put out spot fires outside the fire line cast forward in front of the fire by hit, dry winds.
For information on the fire restrictions in the Tonto National Forest, go to www.fs. usda.gov/tonto.
For statewide road conditions and closures go to www.az511.gov or dial 5-1-1 from any landline or mobile phone from anywhere in Arizona.
For smoke information, visit the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality Web site at www.azdeq.gov/environ/air/smoke/fire.html.