Snowfall chills SE Arizona wildfire

Snowfall chills SE Arizona wildfire

16 February 2008

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USA — Snowfall in the San Rafael Valley south of Sonoita Friday put the chill on a grassland wildfire that charred 2,500 acres Thursday.

The fire, sparked by a power pole and spread by 50-mph winds, jumped from 200 acres around 2 p.m. to thousands of acres later that evening. The Meadow Fire — burning on Forest Service and private land in Santa Cruz County between Sonoita and the U.S.-Mexico border — was expected to slow overnight as forecasted slower winds and higher humidity moved in, a U.S. Forest Service spokeswoman said.

Firefighters worked the fire until midnight Thursday, said Coronado National Forest spokeswoman Heidi Schewel. When they returned Friday to contain the fire, snow was falling in the area, and firefighters couldn’t reach or even see the blaze, Schewel said. The U.S. Forest Service won’t call the fire contained until officials can check if any hot spots remain, but fires don’t burn well in cold, wet and snowy conditions, Schewel said.

A second, smaller fire — named the Valentine Fire — was burning in river-bottom land in the San Pedro River National Conservation Area north of Fairbank, west of Tombstone and south of St. David, in Cochise County. It had burned between 100 and 150 acres and was expected to be contained Friday, according to a Bureau of Land Management spokeswoman.

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