September Fire

A view of the September Fire from the Houston Mesa Road Saturday evening.

Crews recovered the bodies of four Valley residents Monday after their ATV went off the Mogollon Rim Saturday. The crash sparked the September Fire, which had grown to 10 acres.

As the Roundup went to press Monday morning, Coconino and Gila county crews had hiked some 400 feet down to recover the bodies off Forest Road 300, north of Washington Park.

The victims’ identities had not been released. Read more in Friday’s Roundup.

Jon Paxton, with CCSO, said the people are from the Chandler and Gilbert areas and are likely the overdue party reported missing Saturday.

About 4:20 p.m. Saturday, the Forest Service requested assistance from the CCSO after a wildfire started below the Rim, at milepost 10.

While en route, deputies learned the fire started after an ATV went off the 300 road and over the Rim, falling some 400 feet down the cliff face, according to a press release.

Earlier in the day, the group had been reported missing.

Paxton said they met with the families of the victims yesterday and learned they were camping on the Rim, as they did a handful of times each year, and had gone out for an ATV ride.

They believe the group was heading westbound on the 300 road when the driver failed to negotiate a right hand turn and the vehicle went off the cliff. It is unknown why they lost control, he said.

Due to the terrain and fire, ground crews could not get to the site of the wreck immediately. A Department of Public Safety Ranger helicopter spotted one body from the air Sunday, Paxton said.

At 7 a.m. Monday, crews hiked in to recover the bodies.

Firefighters meanwhile continued efforts to suppress the September Fire, which as of press time was at 10 acres. The Rim Road was closed between Forest Road 123 and Forest Road 141. Fire personnel include a 20-person crew, fire engines from Tonto and Coconino Forests, two water tenders from Blue Ridge Fire Department and a helicopter.

Contact the reporter at abechman@payson.com

Contact the reporter at abechman@payson.com

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