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This map shows the area the Forest Service has closed as it battles the Sunflower Fire burning 22 miles south of Payson. Fire managers say the blaze poses no danger to Rim Country.

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Smoke from wildfire chokes Rim Country

As wildland firefighters worked to set fire lines on the Sunflower Fire Thursday, strong winds and low humidity today and into this weekend are threatening to push the fire farther up Mount Peeley. Still, officials say Payson is not at risk and the Gila County Sheriff’s Office has no plans to order an evacuation. Smoke from the fire is expected to linger through town for some time, however, raising concerns for residents with health issues. “The reality is this fire is going to be here burning for several weeks in some level or another and smoke is going to continue to be an issue,” said Curtis Heaton, incident commander in training.

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