Arizona Fire Crews Manage To Protect FAA Site

CAREFREE, Ariz. (AP) -- Fire crews managed to protect a Federal Aviation Administration site and fire lookout tower on Humboldt Mountain from two lightning-sparked wildfires, officials said Thursday.

Crews have alleviated much of the immediate threat to the site and lookout tower through burnout operations aimed at ridding the area of natural fuels, said forest spokesman Dave Killebrew.

But a threat still remains because the fires, which merged Thursday, aren't contained, Killebrew said.

About 140 firefighters worked to build lines around the blaze, which was burning about a quarter mile north of the structures Thursday.

The wind-driven fires burned desert vegetation and were about eight miles north of the Cave Creek and Carefree communities. No other structures were immediately threatened.

The wildfires, which broke out about a mile from one another Wednesday, charred nearly 650 acres by Thursday night. Officials had estimated the fire at 300 acres Thursday morning, but the updated figure was mostly due to better mapping, with some growth in the northwest area, Killebrew said.

One U.S. Forest Service employee in the lookout tower and one FAA employee were evacuated Wednesday evening because of the fires.

The FAA structure houses a long-range radar and is one of several sites that provide communication for commercial air traffic. Services weren't interrupted because of the fire, Killebrew said.

The fire was 15 percent contained. Full containment was expected by Monday.