The lightning-caused Salt Fire had grown to 13,000 acres Thursday after starting two miles southwest of the junction of highways 188 and 288 Monday evening.
It was 0% contained as the Roundup went to print Thursday morning.
The fire is causing a host of issues.
Several communities have been put on pre-evacuation status; State Route 188 has been closed in both directions for several miles south of Roosevelt Lake, and SRP has de-energized a critical power line in the area. That line delivers power to the Valley and SRP worries if the line goes down, it could cause rolling outages in the Valley.
“It is unknown when SRP will be able to re-energize the impacted transmission line without additional service outages because of smoke and the unpredictability of the wildfire, and limited available resources to fight the fire,” according to a release from SRP.
The Southwest Area Incident Management Team 5, under Incident Commander Bernal, assumed command of the Salt, Gin and Griffin fires Thursday. The fires are all burning north of Globe. The Gin Fire as of press time was 3,600 acres and the Griffin 1,000 acres.
On Tuesday night, strong winds from a passing thunderstorm pushed the Salt Fire west toward Highway 188, which forced the closure of Highway 188 between mileposts 225 and 231. A portion of State Route 288 from the Highway 188 junction to Forest Road 465 was also closed.
The wind shift Tuesday night prompted firefighters to set backburns along Highway 188 and State Route 288 to secure the west flank of the fire. On Wednesday, crews worked to contain a 300-acre area where the fire crossed Highway 188. Firefighters are also working to protect three structures in Pinal Creek along with mine infrastructure and power lines.
As a precaution, the Gila County Sheriff’s Office and Gila County Emergency Management put several communities on “SET” mode on the Ready Set, Go! model. This includes areas between H&E Ranch and Pringle Pump, Roosevelt Estates, Roosevelt Resort, Rockhouse, Spring Creek, Hay Hook and Quail Run.
While these communities are not immediately threatened, the notification is a preparatory measure, officials say.
SRP meanwhile says their transmission line service brings energy to many Valley-based SRP customers. Losing the line could mean SRP does not have sufficient power to meet high customer demand during record-hot temperatures, according to a release. SRP is attempting to secure additional energy capacity to replace the impacted transmission line, however high demand for energy across the western U.S. has resulted in limited available supplies.
To avoid potential rotating outages, SRP is asking its customers to reduce their energy use today from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m.
West of town, the lightning-caused Bull Fire this week put plenty of smoke in the air.
The latest release on the Bull Fire put it at 453 acres.
The fire is burning on the Bull Mesa Flat in the Mazatzal Wilderness, 15 miles west of Payson. It started on Sunday.
Masticators have been ordered and crews will be prepping values at risk over the next few days as a precautionary measure. There are no threats to private land or structures. Light to moderate smoke may be visible in Payson, Pine/Strawberry, LF Ranch, Doll Baby Ranch and Simonton Flat areas.