ralls fire

It was a smoky morning in Strawberry Monday as crews worked to cut a line around the Ralls Fire.

After the Backbone Fire threatened the community of Strawberry just a few months ago, it alarmed residents when they saw an orange glow in the sky Sunday night.

The Ralls Fire started just after 7 p.m. on the northeast side of Strawberry Mountain.

It is expected to remain visible on the east side of Strawberry and to drivers on Highway 87 until the area gets significant rainfall, said Jeff Thumm, U.S. Forest Service fire management officer for the Payson Ranger District.

With significant rain in the forecast through the week, the fire is manageable, he said.

The Forest Service assessed the fire Sunday night, but determined for the safety of firefighters, they would wait until Monday morning to bring crews in.

Due to the steep terrain and limited visibility, it’s just not safe to try to fight this fire at night, said Pine-Strawberry Fire Chief John Wisner.

By 7:30 a.m. Monday, five Forest Service firefighters had already hiked up to Strawberry Mountain to begin hand cutting a line around the fire, Thumm said.

Crews will contain the fire and prevent it from growing, but they will let it burn.

“It is doing nothing but good up there,” Thumm said.

“It’s nice to have that undergrowth burning,” Wisner said.

The cause of the fire is unknown.

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