Containment Growing on Central Arizona Wildfire

PHOENIX (AP) -- Firefighters continue to make steady progress toward extinguishing a stubborn wildfire in central Arizona.

The southern zone of a nearly 244,000-acre fire is expected to be fully contained by Friday but the northern zone may take a few additional days, officials say.

The Cave Creek Complex fire was 95 percent contained on the south zone and 40 percent contained on the north zone by Monday night.

Officials 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.

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