Type II Fire Crews Deployed As Bush Fire Grows Past 184,000 Acres
The Bush Fire in the Tonto National Forest continues to grow almost unchecked — as of Monday, it has burned nearly 184,674 acres and is 42% contained.
A Type II firefighting team has been deployed to combat the fire, which has forced the evacuation of several communities in the Tonto Basin. Crews are conducting burnout operations along Highway 87, and structural firefighters are patrolling evacuated areas in case any structures are set ablaze by flying embers.
Incident Commander Alan Sinclair says the new team is working to minimize the fire’s lasting impact on the area’s ecosystem.
"The impacts are great and we understand that," Sinclair said. "We also understand the impacts the fire is having to sensitive Sonoran desert ecosystems, and we’re going to work hard to minimize those impacts."
There are more than 700 firefighters working on this fire, which started after a vehicle caught fire last weekend. Evacuation centers have been set up in Payson and Miami.
The combination of rough terrain and warm weather is making the firefight a challenge, as fire management team spokesperson Dee Hines explained.