Burnout Operations Successful So Far On Arizona Wildfires

Firefighters continued efforts Friday to reinforce lines separating a 43,000-acre wildfire from the communities of Payson, Pine and Strawberry.


PAYSON, Ariz. (AP) -- Firefighters continued efforts Friday to reinforce lines separating a 43,000-acre wildfire from the communities of Payson, Pine and Strawberry.

The lightning-caused Willow fire was 5 percent contained and six miles southwest of Payson on Thursday night, said Mike Johnson, a spokesman for the crew fighting the fire.

Recent burnout operations have pushed back the perimeter of the blaze, officials said.

The fire had grown by about 11,000 acres from Wednesday to Thursday as it spread northwest _ away from the three nearby communities, according to Johnson.

Firefighters have successfully held the blaze south of the Verde River, preventing it from spreading toward Strawberry and Pine, said Ron Meyer, another fire spokesman.

Crews also are using Forest Service Road 193 as a fire break to protect Payson, a community of 14,000.

On Thursday, the crews were focused on reinforcing those lines by doing burnout operations - fires intentionally set to deny a wildfire fuel.

Seventeen buildings, including homes, barns and sheds, were considered threatened by the fire. There were no evacuations. However, all the people in the area had voluntarily left by Wednesday, Johnson said.

Authorities said 925 firefighters were working to stop the blaze, which has been burning cypress trees, chaparral and brush since June 24.


NUTTALL FIRE

TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) -- Fire crews had completed a rough line around an 800-acre blaze in the Pinaleno Mountains but worked Thursday to reinforce it.

The fire was considered just 5 percent contained because the lines remained rough, said Marylee Peterson, a spokeswoman for the crew fighting the fire.

The 520 firefighters working on the blaze conducted burnout operations Thursday, meaning heavy smoke was expected, she said.

The lightning-caused blaze was on the northwest flank of Mount Graham, and no structures were threatened. The blaze remained more than five miles from the telescopes on Mount Graham.


UPSHAW FIRE

SAN CARLOS, Ariz. (AP) -- A wildfire has charred about 2,000 acres of rough mountainous terrain here but wasn't threatening any structures.

Fire officials said the fire was 75 percent contained by Thursday night with full containment expected by Friday night.

About 350 firefighters built lines around the Upshaw fire, which was burning in rough terrain on the San Carlos Indian Reservation, said Arnall Swift, supervisor dispatcher for San Carlos Fire Management.

The fire, started by lightning on Monday, was burning five miles from the nearest ranch.