Bush fire

Gila County Sheriff's Department Reserve Posse Commander Guy Peterson puts tape on the door of an RV at Lazy Ranch RV Park in Tonto Basin Monday signifying the dwelling is unoccupied. Tonto Basin residents have been asked to evacuate because of the Bush Fire.

The Bush Fire had grown to nearly 40,000 acres Monday evening with 0% containment, fire officials reported.

The fire, which started Saturday, was at some 14,000 acres Monday morning.

With the fire moving quickly, and driven by winds from the southwest, Gila County officials Monday morning placed Tonto Basin/Punkin Center from Highway 188 and A-Cross Road to Highway 188 at Rambo Realty in "Go" status.

This includes residents on both sides of the highway, and both sides of the creek.

Jakes Corner residents are in "Set" status.

Compared to last year's Woodbury Fire, which resulted in the evacuation of Roosevelt Lake residents, officials say the Bush Fire is moving much quicker.

"This one is more dangerous," said Michael O’Driscoll, Gila County Emergency Management director.

O'Driscoll said the GCSO started going door-to-door Monday to notify residents of the evacuation order. He said residents had been "very cooperative."

The Red Cross has established a shelter in Miami at the Lee Kornegay School, 4735 S. Ragus Road.

The Southwest Area Team Incident Management Team 5 assumed command of the Bush Fire from the Tonto National Forest Monday, freeing local firefighters to rest and be available for any new fire starts.

• Fire activity: Last night the fire perimeter was mapped with the use of an infrared equipped aircraft, giving fire managers a more accurate fire size. The Bush fire was most active on the northeast side, moving toward Tonto Basin/Punkin Center. This growth was fueled by hot and dry weather, combined with an abundant crop of dry grass.

No structures have been damaged. Infrastructure protection for State Highway 87, power lines, private property, and sensitive recreation and heritage resources continue to be priorities for firefighting efforts. Smoke will continue to be seen in the east Phoenix metropolitan valley, with heavy smoke impacting the Tonto Basin and Roosevelt Lake areas, along with recreation sites along the lower Salt River.

• Safety: Additional firefighters are arriving to assist with fire suppression efforts. Because of increased fire activity and increased personnel near Tonto Basin/Punkin Center, stay away from State Highway 188 to allow residents to leave the area. The Beeline Highway, northbound State Route 87 remains closed at the intersection of Bush Highway and the southbound lanes of SR 87 is closed before the SR 188 junction.

• Weather: Hot and dry weather is expected for the next several days with winds out of the Southwest. Tuesday may bring red flag conditions which will cause additional challenges for firefighters.

• Road and area closures: Highway 188 between SR 87 and Globe is temporarily closed to allow for the safe travel of residents out of the area. State Route 87, Beeline Highway, is closed from the junction of Bush Highway to above the SR 188 junction near Payson.

Visit https://az511.com/ for current information about highway closures.

Contact the editor at abechman@payson.com

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