May 18, 2012
The fire started Sunday and has grown to nearly 16,000 acres, but it has not consumed any buildings or caused any injuries. Fire managers say the fire has burned up against the area thinned by previous fires and so will not likely menace any Rim Country settlements.
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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.