Thread: Arizona '05

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    Post Arizona '05

    Brush fires burning this evening near Wickenburg


    WICKENBURG, Ariz. (AP) - A cluster of fires are burning
    northwest of Wickenburg near the junction of Highway's 71 and 93.
    The state lands department says the fire is burning about a mile
    from four mobile homes and a ranch. So far, 150 acres have gone up
    in flames leaving behind a blackened patch of desert.
    Sixty firefighters are on the "Rusty Fire" along with
    single-engine air tankers and heavy-helicopters.
    In all 13 engines are battling the flames in dry and dead desert
    brush.
    Firefighters from Prescott National Forest, Tonto National
    Forest, The Bureau of Land Management, the State Land Department,
    Wickenburg Fire and the Congress Fire Department are on the scene.
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    Post May 16th

    Brush fire destroys two homes, continues to spread
    PICACHO, Ariz. (AP) - A wildfire destroyed two homes and three
    other structures and was continuing to spread in brush and desert
    grasses around this southern Arizona community, a fire spokeswoman
    said Monday.
    The Tree House fire had spread across 40 acres by early Monday
    but it wasn't clear whether other structures were threatened, said
    Judy Wood, a spokeswoman for the Arizona State Land Department,
    which was fighting the blaze along with other agencies.
    Wood said the fire began in a tree but the cause remained under
    investigation.
    She said the fire, which began during the weekend, serves as a
    reminder to people to clear brush and grasses from around their
    homes to create a buffer against fires. "We're really emphasizing
    this since this is the beginning of the fire season," Wood said.
    ---
    On the Net:
    Information on protecting homes: http://www.firewise.org

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    Wildfire near Wickenburg fully contained
    PHOENIX (AP) - A wildfire that burned 460 acres of land south of
    Wickenburg was fully contained by Monday, officials said.
    The Vulture fire, which started Sunday afternoon, was still
    burning 10 miles south of Wickenburg but will not spread, said
    Deneen Cone, dispatch manager for the Arizona State Land
    Department.
    The blaze came within about half a mile of a ranch, a few other
    buildings and some nearby power lines, but the fire no longer
    threatened those structures Monday, Cone said.
    About 10 firefighters worked to control the flames Monday. The
    cause of the fire was unknown.

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    PHOENIX (AP) - A grass and brush fire northeast of Phoenix near
    Bartlett Lake was 95 percent contained Tuesday night after burning
    more than 14,500 acres, a spokesman said.
    Wendell Peacock, a spokesman for the fire crews, said the Bart
    fire was expected to be fully contained by Friday night "although
    it probably will be earlier than that."
    He said the 14,534 acres included 1,920 acres burned by the St.
    Clair fire, which started Friday but was contained Sunday.
    "The St. Clair fire was already out and the Bart fire burned
    into the St. Clair in places," said Peacock.
    Since the fire-line containment perimeter included the
    burned-out area of the St. Clair, crews were counting that acreage
    as part of the Bart fire, according to Peacock.
    Firefighters cut a fuel-free barrier line around about
    three-quarters of the Bart fire by Tuesday morning after
    temperatures and winds dropped overnight.
    The fire was fueled by grasses that grew lush this spring from
    ample winter rains but have since dried out.
    Nearly 360 firefighters and support staff, including 12 elite
    Hotshot crews and two helicopters, fought the blaze which broke out
    about 5 p.m. Sunday in the Tonto National Forest.
    A $5,000 reward has been offered for information leading to the
    arrest and conviction of whoever started the Bart fire, Peacock
    said.
    "We know it was human caused. Who did it and how they did it is
    still part of the investigation," Peacock said.

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    Post The Skunk fire

    GLOBE, Ariz. (AP) - A wildfire burning southwest of Globe was 95
    percent contained by Tuesday night after charring 1,985 acres,
    authorities said.
    More than 350 firefighters were working on the fire, which is
    burning in rough terrain on state land.
    The fire began Sunday afternoon and was believed to be
    human-caused.
    No structures were threatened by the blaze, said Vinnie Picard,
    a spokesman for the Tonto National Forest.

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    Post May 26th

    Wildfire threatening structures, hundreds may be evacuated


    CASA GRANDE, Ariz. (AP) - A five-thousand-acre wildfire is
    threatening about 100 structures this evening west of the community
    of Stanfield in Pinal County.
    The buildings include an unknown number of homes.
    State fire officials say about 300 people were expected to be
    evacuated.
    Arizona State Land Department spokesman Cliff Pearlberg says the
    Vekol (VEEK'-uhl) fire hasn't damaged any structures.
    However, Pearlberg says they feel structures at this point in
    time are in danger.
    Fire officials are expecting the fire to grow to eight-thousand
    acres.
    There's no estimated time for containment.
    Another fire is also burning about 20 miles south of Casa
    Grande.
    The Green fire has burned 600 acres.
    It's also threatening structures, but no one has been evacuated.


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    CASA GRANDE, Ariz. (AP) - Three firefighters suffered minor
    injuries while battling a 6,650-acre wildfire burning about 20
    miles west of Casa Grande.
    Two firefighters suffered dehydration and a third was burned
    Friday afternoon after being scalded with hot water from a pump on
    a water tender, said Wendall Peacock, a spokesman for the crew
    fighting the fire.
    The dehydrated firefighters were taken to Casa Grande Regional
    Medical Center where they were treated and released, Peacock said.
    The other fireman remained at Maricopa Medical Center in Phoenix
    overnight but was listed in good condition.
    The Vekol fire was 90 percent contained Saturday night and no
    longer threatening about 100 structures in the area, authorities
    said.
    Strong winds from a Friday night storm made fire suppression
    more difficult, Peacock said. Once the storm passed, crews worked
    through the night to create a line around the fire.
    About 255 personnel were fighting the fire, along with 16
    engines, a helicopter and two air tankers.
    The fire has cost $657,483 to fight so far, said U.S. Forest
    Service spokeswoman Annie Hanson.
    The blaze broke out Thursday afternoon and spread quickly
    through dry grass and brush. Authorities were investigating how the
    fire started but suspect it was human caused.

    (Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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    Post May 30th

    Wildfire west of Casa Grande contained
    CASA GRANDE, Ariz. (AP) - Fire crews have contained a 6,116-acre
    wildfire burning about 20 miles west of Casa Grande.
    The Vekol fire was contained on Sunday night, although fire
    crews were continuing to monitor hot spots on Monday, said Wendall
    Peacock, a spokesman for the crew fighting the fire.
    The fire had been estimated at 6,650-acres but was downgraded
    because of better mapping.
    Three firefighters were injured while battling the blaze - two
    had dehydration and a third suffered burns on his torso and hand
    after being scalded with hot water from a pump on a water tender.
    The dehydrated firefighters were taken to a nearby hospital and
    were treated and released on Friday. The third, Rincon Valley
    fireman Rick Halfmann, was expected to stay in the hospital a few
    more days, Peacock said Monday.
    The fire cost around $660,000 to fight, Peacock said.
    The blaze broke out Thursday afternoon and spread quickly
    through dry grass and brush. Authorities were investigating how the
    fire started but suspect it was human caused.
    "As long people are careless with fire," Peacock said, "we're
    going to have a long season."

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    By AMANDA KEIM
    Associated Press Writer
    PHOENIX (AP) - Not that they moved slow before, but Arizona
    firefighters are trying to hit fast-moving brush fires quicker than
    ever as they battle the dried up remnants of this year's heavy
    winter rains.
    With all the moisture came lots of grass and flowers in desert
    areas, eventually leading to more brush fires in lower elevations
    instead of the tall-tree forest fires most people are used to, said
    Cliff Pearlberg, fire prevention officer for the Arizona State Land
    Department.
    "We had all that wonderful rain which caused all those
    beautiful flowers to grow," Pearlberg said. "They're not pretty
    anymore. Now they're all brown."
    As predicted, brush fires have sprung up all over this year and
    agencies are trying to get out to them and coordinate resources as
    early as possible to keep flames contained, said Lori Faeth, the
    governor's policy adviser for natural resources and the
    environment.
    While grass and brush fires are easier to put out than forest
    fires, grass burns more quickly than forest fuel, Pearlberg said.
    As a result, it's easier for grass and brush fires to spread
    quickly before fire crews can contain them - a potentially
    dangerous scenario for fires near desert developments.
    Wildfires have already burned more than 16,450 acres across the
    state in at least 331 fires this year, Pearlberg said. That acreage
    is more than four times the 10-year average for May 27, which is
    3,391 acres and 344 fires.
    Fast responses by ground and air crews help firefighters get a
    handle on flames before they have a chance to spread while making
    the best use of the resources they have available, Faeth said.
    There are nine single engine air tankers, four heavy air tankers
    and nine helicopters in Arizona, Pearlberg said. However, those
    numbers can change quickly depending on need across the country.
    There are only six or seven heavy tankers available in the
    entire nation, Faeth said. Most large aircraft have been grounded
    since 2002, when two planes dropping fire retardant lost their
    wings mid-flight in California and Colorado.
    Fortunately for Arizona, there aren't many wildfires blazing in
    other parts of the country. That means more federal resources,
    including those large air tankers, available to the state, Faeth
    said.
    But while large crafts can drop more fire retardant in a single
    flight, fire crews are taking advantage of the fast turnaround
    times smaller planes bring, Pearlberg said.
    With so many fast-moving fires, crews also have had to resort to
    more indirect methods of fighting fires to assure the firefighters'
    safety, said Andy Mandell, fire prevention officer for the Cave
    Creek ranger district.
    That means using techniques such as fire lines, which keep crews
    further away from blazes, instead of positioning firefighters right
    next to the blaze and dumping water directly on the flames,
    Pearlberg said.
    The state is also stepping up efforts to educate residents in
    lower elevations to fire dangers to keep fires from starting in the
    first place, Faeth said.
    Most people assume wild fires are only a problem near forests
    and don't take steps to protect their homes, she said. But this
    year, fire crews are noticing the opposite.
    "We're fighting lowland fires versus forest fires, which have
    been a problem in the past few years," Faeth said. "A fire can
    start in brush in the middle of the city."
    The last significant desert wildfire near a populated area
    burned 23,000 acres in north Scottsdale in 1995. No homes were
    destroyed.
    ---
    On the Net:
    Arizona State Land Department: www.land.state.az.us
    Governor's office: www.azgovernor.gov
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    Post June 8th

    Fast-moving brush fire forces evacuations near Wickenburg
    WICKENBURG, Ariz. (AP) - A fast-moving brush fire charred 1,000
    acres by late Wednesday afternoon and forced the evacuation of at
    least 30 people from their homes near Wickenburg, authorities said.
    The Bobby fire was burning dry grass and brush 20 miles south of
    Wickenburg and threatening about 30 mobile homes, cabins and other
    structures in the area, according to authorities.
    Up to 70 more residents may have to be evacuated by nightfall if
    the flames moved closer to their homes, said Ken Palmrose, a
    spokesman for the Bureau of Land Management.
    Palmrose said the fire was on BLM and private land, and
    authorities had already determined that the blaze was human-caused.
    The blaze was reported at 12:35 p.m. Wednesday and was burning
    in the same area south of Wickenburg as two recent brush fires, one
    of which charred three homes earlier this week.
    Palmrose said more than 100 firefighters were battling the Bobby
    fire along with three heavy air tankers, five single-engine
    aircraft and two helicopters.

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    Post June 9th

    WICKENBURG, Ariz. (AP) - A brush fire that evacuated at least 30
    people from their homes near Wickenburg was 40 percent contained
    Thursday, authorities said.
    The 2,000-acre Bobby fire, which threatened mobile homes, cabins
    and other structures Wednesday, was not imminently threatening any
    structures, said Ken Palmrose, a spokesman for the Bureau of Land
    Management.
    "The threat is lessened in the whole area," Palmrose said
    Thursday. "It's looking real good."
    Full containment was expected by Friday morning.
    Palmrose said evacuated residents were heading back home soon,
    of they hadn't already returned. He said there were no reports of
    any injuries or structures lost to the fire.
    About 190 firefighters were battling the Bobby fire, enforcing
    lines and putting out hot spots.
    The fire, which is burning about 10 miles south of Wickenburg,
    was reported at 12:35 p.m. Wednesday. It was burning in the same
    area south of Wickenburg as two recent brush fires, one of which
    charred three homes earlier this week.
    The blaze was under investigation, but authorities suspect it
    was caused by people.

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    Post Fire Danger

    Wildfire behavior alert issued for Arizona
    TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) - State and federal officials are warning
    that the next few days could be some of the most dangerous of
    Arizona's wildfire season.
    Moisture seeping into the region from Mexico could also spawn
    dry thunderstorms along the Arizona-New Mexico border that may
    pepper the terrain with lightning.
    Calling the weather conditions a "rare event," the
    government's Southwest Coordination Center in Albuquerque issued a
    "fire behavior alert" that warns the weather "will likely result
    in major spread of any existing wildland fires."
    Federal officials say the fire danger will be focused in areas
    below 7,000 feet elevation.
    "The desert country of Arizona is the area of concern because
    of the heavy fuel buildup after all the moisture this winter,"
    said Ken Palmrose, fire prevention officer for the Bureau of Land
    Management.
    Palmrose said lower-elevation wildfires that consume grass and
    other fine fuels typically die down at night as humidity levels
    rebound but that may not be so in coming days.
    So far this year, wildfires have charred more than 60,000 acres
    of Arizona land.
    The blazes were fueled by the wet winter, which allowed
    wildflowers, grasses and weeds to flourish only to quickly dry out
    when the heat set in.
    Weather forecasts possibly through Monday call for increasing
    winds and continued dry conditions.
    Authorities say dry winds combined with hot temperatures and low
    humidity mean wildfires will be easier to start and flames will
    spread quicker.
    Fire restrictions, including banning campfires and smoking
    outside of vehicles, have been imposed throughout most of Arizona's
    lower deserts and have been creeping northward and expanding to
    public lands across the state.


    ---
    Information from: Arizona Daily Star, http://www.azstarnet.com

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    Post June 19th

    SIERRA VISTA, Ariz. (AP) - A wildfire that prompted the
    voluntary evacuations of 15 homes in southern Arizona had grown to
    875 acres by Sunday afternoon, officials said.
    The homes near Red Mountain, about four miles south of
    Patagonia, were evacuated because the canyons in which they are
    located have limited access to roads, which would make it difficult
    for homeowners to leave if the fire worsened, said Jonetta Holt, a
    spokeswoman for fire crews.
    The evacuations weren't prompted by a belief that the blaze
    would imminently overrun the homes, Holt said.
    The Aztec fire was burning about a mile from the structures,
    Holt said. None of the fire has been contained.
    "It's continuing to creep along the north, but it's not
    approaching a point where it's going over any of our lines out
    there," Holt said. "It's burning more on interior than making a
    huge run."
    As a precaution, electricity was turned off at scores of homes
    and a few commercial properties in the area.
    Portions of the fire burned in steep, rocky terrain and in
    narrow canyons, making it difficult for firefighters to attack the
    blaze in the Coronado National Forest.
    The fire was spotted around 1 p.m. Saturday. There were 391
    people fighting the fire using 17 engines, three helicopters and
    three airline planes.
    Holt said investigators determined the blaze was caused by an
    abandoned campfire.

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    Arrow

    PHOENIX (AP) - Scottsdale city officials will consider this week
    whether to close the McDowell Sonoran Preserve as fire conditions
    there continue to worsen.
    Fire officials say that the dry and windy weather, coupled with
    an unusually heavy growth of grass and vegetation this year,
    warrants closing access to about 10,000 acres owned by the city.
    "The conditions are nearly perfect for major wildland fire
    activity," Scottsdale Fire Chief William McDonald said.
    The City Council is scheduled to consider closing the preserve
    at its Tuesday meeting.
    Only once during its 10-year history - during the 2002
    "Rodeo-Chediski" fire in north-central Arizona - has Scottsdale
    closed the area to visitors because there were not enough resources
    to give the area full fire protection.
    ---
    Information from: The Arizona Republic, http://www.azcentral.com

    (Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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    Post June 20th

    SIERRA VISTA, Ariz. (AP) - A wildfire in southern Arizona was 40
    percent contained Monday night after charring 1,300 acres,
    authorities said.
    The fire, which was spotted Saturday afternoon and caused by an
    abandoned campfire, was expected to be fully contained by Friday
    night.
    Portions of the Aztec fire burned in steep, rocky terrain and in
    narrow canyons, making it difficult for firefighters to attack the
    blaze in the Coronado National Forest.
    But fire spokeswoman Jonetta Holt said crews were able to build
    containment lines around the fire near Red Mountain, about four
    miles south of Patagonia.
    People living in 15 houses in the fire's path were voluntarily
    evacuated Sunday but allowed to return home that night.
    "We have a good strong line and we're holding it. We have
    engines on that piece of line" where the homes are located about
    one mile from the fire, Holt said.
    Holt said 460 people, three helicopters and two airplanes were
    fighting the blaze.
    Crews were doing more burnout operations Monday night and Holt
    said "there was no movement on the west and south sides" of the
    fire.

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    GILA BEND, Ariz. (AP) - A huge brush fire is burning on the
    Barry Goldwater Air Force Range between Ajo (AH'-ho) and Gila Bend.
    The Goldwater Fire is between 15-thousand and 20-thousand acres.
    The Bureau of Land Management says the fire is burning along
    Highway 85. There are no structures in danger, however there are
    concerns the fire could reach power lines that feed Ajo.
    The B-L-M says there's been no containment on the fire.
    The Goldwater fire was first reported June 17th.
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    Post June 21st

    PHOENIX (AP) - Crews fighting a 1,300-acre wildfire in southern
    Arizona focused Tuesday on extending a protection line around the
    blaze.
    The Aztec fire near Red Mountain, about four miles south of
    Patagonia, was 50 percent contained and expected to be declared
    fully contained by Friday evening.
    People living in 15 houses in the fire's path had been
    voluntarily evacuated earlier but were allowed to return home
    Sunday night.
    Utilities also restored electric power service to about 100
    homes. Their power had been turned off as precaution.
    Portions of the Aztec fire burned in steep, rocky terrain and in
    narrow canyons, making it difficult for firefighters to attack the
    blaze in the Coronado National Forest.
    The fire was first spotted Saturday afternoon and caused by an
    abandoned campfire.
    About 460 people and three helicopters were fighting the blaze.
    ---
    GOLDWATER FIRE
    AJO, Ariz. (AP) - A brush fire grew to 40,000 acres on the Barry
    Goldwater Air Force Range north of here by Tuesday night, officials
    said.
    The fire, which was 10 percent contained, was burning in tall
    grass in wide open country, said Ken Palmrose, a spokesman for the
    Bureau of Land Management, and Lt. Brady Smith, a spokesman for
    Luke Air Force Base.
    No structures were threatened. The blaze had threatened power
    lines, which were periodically shut down during the fire, Smith
    said.
    About 30 firefighters were conducting burnout operations. Ten
    fire trucks, two heavy air tankers and one plane also were fighting
    the fire.
    The blaze was under investigation and began in an area where
    aircraft do not drop ordnance, Smith said.
    The fire was burning 3 miles west of Highway 85, which was
    closed between Gila Bend and Ajo on Tuesday afternoon.
    ---
    SUNSET POINT FIRE
    CORDES JUNCTION, Ariz. (AP) - A brush fire burning south of here
    grew to nearly 6,900 acres Tuesday but was 50 percent contained,
    officials said.
    No structures were threatened, said Rick Hartigan, a spokesman
    for the team fighting the fire.
    Authorities said the blaze was no longer threatening
    archaeological sites and high voltage power lines that serve
    Phoenix.
    The Sunset Point fire burned about a mile north of Black Canyon
    City, but it was moving away from the community, Hartigan said.
    More than 200 firefighters were building lines and mopping up
    the fire Tuesday.
    A thunderstorm forecast for Tuesday night could hamper
    firefighting efforts, Hartigan said. Crews were expected to fight
    the fire overnight.
    Northbound lanes of Interstate 17 near the fire reopened Tuesday
    afternoon, said Frank Valenzuela, a spokesman for the Department of
    Public Safety.
    Officials urged drivers to proceed carefully as damaged guard
    rails along the highway were being restored.

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    Post June 22nd

    CORDES JUNCTION, Ariz. (AP) - A brush fire burning south of here
    was fully contained Wednesday night at 6,847 acres, officials said.
    Wendell Peacock, a spokesman for the team fighting the Sunset
    Point fire, said no structures were threatened and the blaze was no
    longer threatening power lines.
    About 25 firefighters and two engines were mopping up the fire
    and putting out hot spots Wednesday night, officials said.
    The Sunset Point fire came as close as a mile north of Black
    Canyon City, but the blaze was no longer burning near the city,
    Peacock said.
    Interstate 17 near the fire reopened Tuesday afternoon, but
    drivers were advised to proceed carefully because of damaged guard
    rails along the highway.
    ---
    AZTEC FIRE
    SIERRA VISTA, Ariz. (AP) - Crews worked Wednesday to build more
    than two miles of containment lines around a 1,300-acre wildfire in
    southern Arizona, officials said.
    The lines around the Aztec fire were 50 percent complete, and
    full containment was expected by Friday.
    While people living in 15 houses in the fire's path had been
    voluntarily evacuated earlier in the week, the blaze was no longer
    threatening homes and those residents were allowed to return home.
    Portions of the Aztec fire burned in steep, rocky terrain and in
    narrow canyons, making it difficult for firefighters to attack the
    blaze in the Coronado National Forest.
    The fire was first spotted Saturday afternoon and caused by an
    abandoned campfire.
    About 405 people and three helicopters were fighting the blaze.
    ---
    GOLDWATER FIRE
    AJO, Ariz. (AP) - A 55,000-acre brush fire on the Barry
    Goldwater Air Force Range north of here was 70 percent contained,
    authorities said.
    Fifty-five firefighters were working on the fire, which had
    spread to the Sauceda Mountains south of Gila Bend, said Lt. Brady
    Smith, a spokesman for Luke Air Force Base.
    The Goldwater fire was expected to be fully contained within the
    next three days.
    No structures or power lines were threatened.
    The fire was burning in steep, rocky terrain in desert landscape
    that includes cacti and mesquite, Smith said.
    The blaze was under investigation and began in an area where
    aircraft do not drop ordnance.
    Previously, the fire had prompted officials to close Highway 85,
    but it was reopened Tuesday night, Smith said.

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    Post June 23rd

    By AMANDA KEIM
    Associated Press Writer
    CAREFREE, Ariz. (AP) - A wildfire that destroyed at least 10
    homes and forced the evacuation of others moved away Thursday from
    communities that it had been threatening, fire officials said.
    Residents in the Tonto Hills area, which covered a 120-home
    subdivision about 20 miles northeast of Phoenix, were being allowed
    to return home Thursday night.
    Officials said the Cave Creek Complex fire was estimated at
    46,000 acres and continuing to grow Thursday night, but wasn't
    expected to endanger other populated areas.
    The fire, which began Tuesday night as two separate
    lightning-caused blazes and merged Wednesday, was 5 percent
    contained but officials said there was no estimate for full
    containment.
    "We're not out of the woods. Are we feeling good about it?
    Yes," said Jim Clawson, a liaison officer with the team fighting
    the fire.
    About 175 people originally were evacuated from 250 homes in
    several scattered communities Wednesday.
    There was no immediate estimate as to when the remaining
    evacuated residents would be able to return to their homes,
    Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio said at a news conference.
    Arpaio said 350 sheriff's personnel were escorting the Tonto
    Hills residents back to their homes after first checking their
    identities and addresses at roadblocks.
    Marco D'Ambrosio and his wife were checking on the status of
    their Tonto Hills home Thursday night with authorities when they
    got the news that they could return.
    "I guess we're the lucky ones," D'Ambrosio said.
    More than 620 firefighters used roads, ridges and other natural
    barriers to help them make a stand against the wildfire Thursday.
    They set fires in those areas and allowed them to run toward the
    body of the wildfire to burn fuel from its path.
    Vincent Francia, the mayor of nearby Cave Creek, said 12 homes
    had been lost - 10 cabins in Camp Creek, a recreation area with
    several cabins, and two homes in Tonto Hills, a neighborhood made
    up of multimillion-dollar homes.
    Art Morrison, a spokesman for the firefighting team, said he
    didn't know how many buildings had burned but noted that none had
    been lost Thursday.
    "This fire is likely going to continue to grow but it's not
    going to grow in directions that are going to be threatening life
    and property," Morrison said.
    The fire began as two lightning-sparked blazes Tuesday and
    spread quickly in hot, dry and breezy weather.
    Two homes in Scottsdale were ordered evacuated Thursday and the
    fire jumped Bartlett Dam Lake Road late Thursday afternoon.
    The Maricopa County Sheriff's Office was conducting voluntary
    evacuations in the area of Bartlett Lake northeast of Phoenix. The
    evacuation included boaters on the water, campsites and the marina.
    By Thursday night, about 30 people had been evacuated, according to
    Arpaio, who said there were no homes in that area except a
    sheriff's cabin.
    Helicopters dropped water all day Thursday to drown the fire
    around Camp Creek and officials said the area appeared to be out of
    danger.
    Around Camp Creek, all that was left of some homes were chimneys
    or stoves sitting in fields of ash. Flames ran along some trees and
    ruins continued to smolder.
    At least five destroyed structures were visible in an area
    toured by the media. Seven cabins survived, primarily those located
    along a creek.
    Evacuee Eric Herrman briefly returned to his $1.5 million home
    in Tonto Hills on Thursday to retrieve some documents and clothing
    for his wife. "It's our dream home," Herrman said. "It took us
    five years to build."
    Another Tonto Hills resident, Robert Kintz, said he was annoyed
    by the evacuations because he didn't think there was any danger. He
    said he returned to get some fresh clothes and retrieve a computer
    he needed but wasn't taking any other belongings.
    "If I had been out there yesterday (Wednesday) instead of
    playing golf, I wouldn't have left," said Kintz.
    Two 345-kilovolt lines that deliver power from Glen Canyon Dam
    to the Phoenix area were de-energized Wednesday for about 90
    minutes as the fire burned underneath, said LaVerne Kyriss,
    spokeswoman for the Western Area Power Administration, which
    controls the lines.
    Kyriss said the lines weren't damaged but were turned off to
    avoid a potentially dangerous situation. She said the Western Area
    Power Administration worked with other utilities to reroute power
    and that there were no noticeable effects for nearby residents.
    ---
    Associated Press Writer Beth DeFalco in Phoenix contributed to
    this story.
    ---
    On the Net:
    National Interagency Fire Center: http://www.nifc.gov

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    Post

    PHOENIX (AP) - Fire officials estimate the southern zone of a
    nearly 244,000-acre wildfire burning in central Arizona will be
    contained by Friday.
    The northern zone may take a few additional days to fully
    contain, said fire spokesman Dave Killebrew.
    Officials said the Cave Creek Complex fire was 95 percent
    contained on the south zone and 40 percent contained on the north
    zone by Monday night.
    They said more than 1,200 people were fighting the fire, which
    had charred 212,800 acres in the south zone and 31,150 in the north
    zone.
    On Monday, crews along the southern zone continued mopping up
    and patrolling fire lines. They also started rehabilitation work to
    prevent erosion and seeded some of the lines with native grass.
    In the north, fire spokesman Chris Papen said burnout operations
    had wrapped up ahead of schedule thanks to increased nighttime
    humidity and more scattered fuels.
    "It's looking real positive," Papen said. "This fire could
    have been much more serious. They really did a good job."
    Crews up north were also starting rehabilitation efforts.
    "We put a fire out and then put the landscape back as best we
    can," Papen said.
    No communities were being threatened by the fire.
    The Cave Creek Complex fire began as two lightning-sparked fires
    on June 21 near Cave Creek and within days had forced the
    evacuations of some 250 homes northeast of Phoenix. Eleven homes
    and three storage sheds were destroyed in that area.
    ---
    On the Net:
    National Interagency Fire Center: http://www.nifc.gov/
    Cave Creek Fire: http://fireteam-sw.com/whitney/cavecreek/

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    Post July 5th

    PHOENIX (AP) - Some crews were clearing out and others worked
    Tuesday to restore areas that had been torn up to make firebreaks
    as firefighters fought to tame a mammoth wildfire in central
    Arizona.
    The Cave Creek Complex fire, the second-largest wildfire in
    state history, covered 245,310 acres by Tuesday night.
    Fire officials said the south zone was at 212,800 acres but 95
    percent contained with the north zone at 32,510 acres and 60
    percent contained.
    "We're in transition, from put the fire out to recover from the
    fire," said John Bearer, a spokesman for the crews battling the
    blaze.
    Bearer said crews were repairing the damage done to the terrain
    as firefighters dug firebreaks to keep the flames from spreading.
    "They're making the (bull) dozer lines and hand lines that were
    dug look more natural," he said.
    On the north end, firefighters began to leave.
    "They're already doing demobilization out there, particularly
    to engines since the threat to communities has diminished," said
    Rob Deyerberg, another fire spokesman.
    About 1,000 people were still fighting the fire overall.
    No communities were being threatened by the blaze.
    The Cave Creek Complex fire began as two lightning-sparked fires
    on June 21 near Cave Creek and within days had forced the
    evacuations of some 250 homes northeast of Phoenix. Eleven homes
    and three storage sheds were destroyed in that area.
    ---
    On the Net:
    National Interagency Fire Center: http://www.nifc.gov/
    Cave Creek Fire: http://fireteam-sw.com/whitney/cavecreek/

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    Post July 7th

    AGUILA, Ariz. (AP) - A fast-moving brush fire had burned 1,000
    acres by Thursday night west of this small town but was not
    threatening any structures, authorities said.
    Highway 60 was closed in both directions for about two hours
    before being re-opened around 9 p.m., said Jon Kohn, a fire
    information officer for the Arizona State Land Department.
    Kohn said crews were starting to gain control of the Agro fire,
    which was reported before nightfall.
    Six air tankers, one helicopter and several crews battled the
    fire and were trying to keep flames from reaching railroad tracks
    in the area.
    The cause of the fire was not immediately known, Kohn said.

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    Post

    By AMANDA KEIM
    Associated Press Writer
    PHOENIX (AP) - Standing on the patio of his home near Cave
    Creek, Bill Victor used to be able to see saguaros, barrel cactus,
    Palo Verde and mesquite trees covering the mountains.
    Since the mammoth Cave Creek Complex fire scorched the area near
    his Tonto Hills home two weeks ago, that view has changed a bit.
    "All the large mountains around our house are black," Victor
    said. "They've really been desolated."
    Because desert plants are not accustomed to living with fire,
    ecologists say native vegetation in some of the areas charred by
    this year's wildfires may never completely recover.
    Desert plants have grown far apart for at least 10,000 years and
    there hasn't been an opportunity for fires to spread, said Mark
    Dimmitt, director of natural history with the Arizona-Sonora Desert
    Museum.
    But since the 1970s, areas below 3,000 feet in elevation have
    been invaded by nonnative grasses that are filling bare spaces in
    the desert and allowing blazes to spread, Dimmitt said.
    While fires have been in the desert for only a few decades, it
    would take native vegetation hundreds of thousands of years to
    develop resistance to flames.
    That means scorched areas of the Sonoran Desert, such as where
    the Cave Creek Complex fire started northeast of Phoenix last
    month, won't recover, Dimmitt said.
    "Most of the plants there are going to die," he said.
    "Probably 80 percent of them will be killed by the fire."
    The National Interagency Fire Center's Southwest Coordination
    Center reports that more than 477,323 acres have burned in at least
    2,077 fires across Arizona this year. The vast majority of those
    fires have been in desert scrub and chaparral areas, said Arizona
    State Land Department spokesman Jon Kohn.
    Those figures include the Cave Creek Complex fire, which had
    scorched at least 248,310 acres and was 90 percent contained by
    Wednesday afternoon.
    Between 10 percent and 20 percent of that area was true Sonoran
    Desert, full of plants such as saguaros, Palo Verde and mesquite
    trees, said Norm Ambos, a forest soil scientist who has toured some
    of the scorched areas.
    Many trees were completely torched in the Cave Creek Complex
    fire, Ambos said.
    Many saguaros in that area were only scorched around the bottom,
    so they will be able to live another two or three years and produce
    seeds, Ambos said.
    But that doesn't mean the native vegetation will immediately
    spring back to life.
    "Saguaros, most of the time, need some type of nurse plant to
    be established. If it's not under the shade of a Palo Verde or
    mesquite trees, it usually doesn't survive," Ambos said.
    Meanwhile, the faster-growing, more fire resistant nonnative
    weeds that allowed fires to spread in the first place will have an
    easier time taking hold of the burned areas, said Daniel R.
    Patterson, a desert ecologist from the Center for Biological
    Diversity.
    Nonnative weeds not only grow more quickly than native plants,
    they also suck the moisture out of the soil, making them a problem
    even once the fire season is over, Patterson said.
    "If the status quo continues, this is going to be like a
    runaway train. Our children and our grandchildren aren't going to
    know what a healthy desert looks like," Patterson said.
    Victor said he has always enjoyed watching nature regenerate
    itself after a fire. He has already seen deer and other animals
    come back to the Tonto Hills area to graze on vegetation that
    wasn't burned, he said.
    But Victor also has little hope he will be able to enjoy views
    of saguaro-covered mountains from his home again.
    "It's going to take a long time for these things to come
    back," he said. "Not in our lifetimes, that's for sure."
    ---
    On the Net:
    Southwest Coordination Center: http://gacc.nifc.gov/swcc/
    Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum: http://www.desertmuseum.org/
    Center for Biological Diversity: http://www.sw-center.org/swcbd/
    Arizona State Land Department: http://www.land.state.az.us/

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    Post July 11th

    TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) - A fire burning in the Coronado National
    Forest grew to 1,850 acres by Monday night but authorities said it
    still wasn't threatening any structures.
    Although the Florida fire was still zero percent contained,
    authorities said the blaze was expected to be fully contained by
    Friday night.
    "We still have one mile of fire line to build," said Dan
    Bastion, a spokesman for the team fighting the lightning-sparked
    fire that started Thursday.
    Authorities have closed the Madera Canyon Recreation Area as a
    precaution, Coronado National Forest spokeswoman Heidi Schewel
    said.
    Homeowners and campers, however, were allowed to stay in the
    canyon area, which has resort lodges, a campground and summer
    homes, Schewel said.
    Bastion said the possibility that the fire will threaten
    structures is remote.
    "The fire is behaving the way we expect it," he said.
    Firefighters used natural barriers to help them build lines
    around the blaze on Monday.
    It would take monsoon moisture to completely extinguish the
    fire, Schewel said.
    Bastion said 677 firefighters were working on the blaze, which
    is burning steep, rugged terrain in wilderness areas.

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    Post July 18th

    By ARTHUR H. ROTSTEIN
    Associated Press Writer
    TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) - Residents began returning Monday to a
    Dudleyville mobile home park that was evacuated a day earlier
    because of a wildfire that destroyed three homes and 10 other
    buildings, including sheds, a Pinal County official said.
    The Indian Hills fire started Sunday in brush, grass and
    vegetation east of the San Pedro River and grew Monday to at least
    550 acres, said Cliff Pearlberg, a spokesman for the Arizona State
    Land Department. "We have dozers working from south to north to
    reinforce the lines to protect homes in the area," he said.
    About 100 residents living in about 30 trailer homes at the
    Valentine Trailer Park and a few other homes nearby were evacuated
    on Sunday, but began returning home Monday, said Pinal County
    Sheriff's Cmdr. Jeffrey Karns.
    An evacuation shelter had been set up at the Hayden-Winkelman
    High School, he said.
    The fire continued moving both north and south Monday parallel
    to the river and west of Arizona 77, with no containment
    percentage, said Judy Wood, a fire information officer.
    Some 135 firefighters from 11 fire departments and one
    contractor battled the blaze, and equipment also was provided from
    Gila County, Wood said.
    The fire's cause was still under investigation.
    ---

    FLORIDA FIRE
    TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) - Fire officials reported good progress
    Monday in efforts to subdue the 22,000-acre Florida fire, 11 miles
    east of Green Valley.
    The fire, which was 50 percent contained, remained a half-mile
    from 30 homes and cabins in Madera Canyon and a mile from a major
    astronomical observatory on nearby Mount Hopkins. Both areas were
    evacuated last week.
    Weather permitting, firefighters planned a prescribed burn in
    the Madera Canyon area, carefully controlling its conditions, fire
    spokesman Bob Summerfield said. The plan called for slowly backing
    the fire down a hillside and burning grass and brush close to the
    ground while keeping the fire from gathering intensity and climbing
    into trees and their crowns.
    Doing so would take away fuels that would burn otherwise with
    more intensity, particularly in lower-humidity conditions, that
    would be more likely to consume the trees.
    "People should know that the burn that we're conducting is
    under carefully controlled conditions, but it will put up a lot of
    smoke," Summerfield said.
    Firefighters continued building containment lines on the south
    end of the fire, but much of the northern and eastern perimeter of
    the fire was cool.
    The canyon and the observatory both benefited from higher
    humidity and weekend rainfall, especially on Saturday night, when a
    quarter-inch to a half-inch of rain fell.
    There was no significant rainfall Sunday over the fire area,
    "just a few sprinkles," Summerfield said, "but even the increase
    in the humidity is a big help."
    The homes and cabins in Madera Canyon and the staff of the Fred
    Lawrence Whipple Observatory remained evacuated.
    "We're continuing to strengthen our structure protection
    measures" in both areas, Summerfield said - activities such as
    clearing brush from around structures and putting up sprinkler
    systems that could be triggered if flames approach.
    "We couldn't certainly call them out of the woods, so there's
    still some level of concern, but it's less than there was a few
    days ago."
    About 150 personnel were released from the Florida fire to work
    on other lightning-sparked blazes across the state. A total of 872
    people remained working on the fire, which was started by lightning
    on July 7. There was no estimate for full containment.
    ---

    PRESCOTT FOREST FIRES
    PRESCOTT, Ariz. (AP) - In central Arizona's Prescott National
    Forest, crews and air tankers attacked two lightning-sparked fires
    Monday that merged the day before and nearly doubled in size to
    3,500 acres.
    The Butte Complex fire was burning northward, toward Cedar Bench
    Wilderness. It began as the Butte fire, located 13 miles southwest
    of Camp Verde, and the Arnold fire, 10 miles south-southwest of
    Camp Verde. The blaze burned grasses and juniper woodlands but was
    not threatening any structures, said Debbie Maneely, a Prescott
    National Forest spokeswoman.
    Meanwhile, lightning also triggered five other fires in a
    five-hour span Sunday on the Prescott National Forest, ranging from
    a quarter-acre to 80 acres in size. All were estimated at 50
    percent contained and none threatened any structures, Maneely said.
    ---

    TONTO FOREST FIRES
    PHOENIX (AP) - Firefighters fought at least three fires Monday
    on the Tonto National Forest, all started over the weekend by
    lightning.
    The 200-to 400-acre Salome fire about 10 miles north of
    Roosevelt Lake threatened some structures on private land, with
    firefighters requesting air tanker retardant drops, said Emily
    Garber, a Tonto spokeswoman.
    In addition, a historic cabin on the forest was wrapped in
    protective fire retardant material, though it was not immediately
    threatened, she said.
    Vinnie Picard, another Tonto spokesman, said structural
    protection also was put in place for a small ranch a few miles
    south of the fire.
    Also on the Tonto, a firefighting team from New Mexico was
    brought in to take over the battle against the 5,000-acre Edge
    Complex fire north of the Four Peaks Wilderness area. The
    wilderness is about 10 miles east of Roosevelt Lake.
    Crews also worked to keep the 500-acre Oak fire from creeping
    down into Punkin Center, about five miles to the southeast.
    In all, about 40 lightning-sparked fires were reported on the
    Tonto during the weekend, Garber said.

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