The Forest Service reported the Big Canyon fire near Tonto Creek Fish Hatchery 100 percent contained on Monday, reduced to a harmless smolder in rough and inaccessible terrain.
The lightning caused fire burned about 110 acres two miles west of the Tonto Fish Hatchery near the Highline Trail, just 14 miles from Payson.
The Forest Service spent an estimated $730,000 on the blaze — that works out to about $6,600 per acre burned. The cost of hand-thinning an acre runs to about $700, although projects like the 4-FRI Forest Initiative could clear thick forest at no cost to the taxpayer, by selling the wood to private contractors with mills capable of handling the abundance of small trees.
The fire on Monday continued to smolder in the interior, although fire crews have completed mop-up operations all around the perimeter. The Forest Service left a single three-man truck to monitor the blaze and make sure a stray ember doesn’t start up a new fire outside the burn area.
The Forest Service used helicopters deployed from the Payson Airport to dump flame retardant to prevent the fire from spreading up into the thick forest on the Rim.
The Forest Service has now lifted several road closures imposed at the peak of the fire’s spread.