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The Forest Service used slurry bombers and helicopters this week to keep a wildfire 21 miles south of Payson from making a run on the small community of Sunflower.

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Wildfire rages near Sunflower

Windy conditions and rough terrain are making it difficult for firefighters to get a handle on the Sunflower Fire south of Payson. The fire started Saturday morning and quickly spread, burning through 2,500 acres overnight. As of Tuesday morning, the fire was at 4,600 acres and 5 percent containment. While Hotshot crews wrestle to wrangle in the first large northern Gila County wildfire of the year, officials say they have kept the fire away from the Beeline Highway and any structures. Meanwhile in Prescott, another fire has forced the evacuation of some 300 homes, one of four major fires burning statewide. That includes the nearby 700-acre Bull Flat Fire just south of Canyon Creek Fish Hatchery in the Pleasant Valley Ranger District in the Tonto National Forest. The fire has also burned onto the Fort Apache Reservation about 20 miles northwest of Cibecue. Yesterday, the fire was 35 percent contained. The 160 firefighters online Monday evening had the fire 45 percent contained, thanks to backfires along a nine-mile stretch of Forest Road 109.


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