Slate Fire by reader Debbie Burd

The Slate Fire near Sunflower started Saturday, by Sunday the Forest Service had the fire contained at 226 acres. The cause of the fire is still unknown.

Weekend travelers between Payson and Phoenix experienced long delays with two closures on Hwy. 87 on June 22.

Arizona Department of Transportation officials said a utility trailer caught fire around 1:30 p.m. and spread into the forest near the Hwy. 188 turnoff to Roosevelt Lake. Around the same time, a brush fire near Sunflower — the Slate Fire — forced ADOT to close Hwy. 87 northbound.

ADOT shut down southbound Hwy. 87 at that point turning travelers going south back to Payson. ADOT directed those trying to make it to Phoenix to go through Pine and Camp Verde to get south.

By 5 p.m., firefighters had the vehicle fire under control and ADOT reopened the highway going north.

Yet the Slate Fire near Sunflower kept southbound traffic limited to one lane until later. ADOT had closed the highway at milepost 218 in the afternoon.

By June 23, the Forest Service had contained the Slate Fire at 226 acres and traffic flowed both ways on Hwy. 87.

The Tonto Forest said the cause of that fire is unknown.

contact the reporter at: mnelson@payson.com

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