Wildfires continue to burn throughout the state - East Valley Tribune: News

Wildfires continue to burn throughout the state

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Posted: Friday, June 24, 2005 12:29 am | Updated: 8:48 am, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

PHOENIX - Lightning-sparked wildfires continued to burn across Arizona on Saturday as crews worked to contain the blazes in hot, dry conditions.

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Fire officials throughout the state had been concerned that afternoon winds could fan flames and make conditions difficult for firefighters, but by Saturday afternoon, no new structures were threatened.

Some fire crews reported better-than-expected progress on containing the fires.

"We're not out of the woods on any of these yet, but we have had success in herding them away from populated areas," said Vinnie Picard, a spokesman for the Tonto National Forest, one of the areas hardest hit by the fires.

CAVE CREEK COMPLEX

The 60,000-acre fire complex burning near the upscale community of Cave Creek was about 20 percent contained Saturday and continued to grow away from residential areas that had been threatened.

Picard said it was likely that a substantial number of acres had been burned on Saturday, but officials did not immediately have new acreage counts.

Many of the residents previously evacuated had been allowed to return home on Friday.

On Saturday, owners of cabins in the Camp Creek area were escorted in and allowed to see the damage to their community. Eleven homes and three storage sheds were destroyed.

The homes remained evacuated, but Picard said the residents were being allowed to see the area for themselves.

Most of the fires' growth on Saturday was on the northern end of the blaze, driving it deeper into the forest, Picard said.

Firefighter crews were looking for the best places to build defensible fire lines, he said.

The 775 firefighters working on the blaze were also trying to protect ecologically sensitive areas.

Forest officials were particularly concerned about the riparian areas in the forest's interior because they provide key wildlife habitat.

"From an ecological standpoint, those are really important to us," he said.

PERKINS COMPLEX

A group of 13 fires sparked by lightning near Kingman had charred 21,200 acres by Saturday.

The fire, burning in desert grass and scrub, was considered 70 percent contained, fire officials said.

The area saw high winds midday Saturday, but firefighting efforts were going better than initially expected, said Jackie Denk, a spokeswoman for the crew fighting the fire.

Officials were waiting until later in the day to assess the acreage and containment on the fire, but Denk said containment was expected to be higher by the end of the day.

ZANE FIRE

Fire crews expected to have full containment on a 200-acre fire northeast of Payson by Saturday night.

The Zane fire had initially shown erratic patterns that prompted officials to warn of possible evacuations and to call in about 250 firefighters.

But by Saturday, crews had a line around the fire and were able to focus on strengthening it, said Picard.

THREE-FOUR COMPLEX

A 17,000-acre fire burning near Roosevelt Dam continued to grow to the west on Saturday.

The fire, which had caused sporadic road closures in the area, was 10 percent contained.

Crews had been worried about growth to the north but were able to make good progress on that end of the fire, Picard said. The western side was forcing firefighters to deal with rugged terrain, he said.

The Cholla campground was closed so that firefighters could use it as a base, but other recreation sites in the area remained open.

About 270 firefighters were working on the blaze Saturday.

HUMBUG FIRE

A fire southwest of Crown King was 20 percent contained Saturday.

The 3,500-acre Humbug fire started with lightning on Thursday and was burning in tall grasses, said Victoria Fox, the spokeswoman for the crew fighting the fire.

The fire remained 4 to 5 miles southwest of Crown King Mountain, and no structures were threatened by the blaze, she said.

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