Arizona Wildfire Forces Evacuations

Arizona Wildfire Forces Evacuations

10 May 2011

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USA — The Forest Service says it is expecting gusty winds Monday on the fire lines of a wildfire burning in eastern Arizona near the mining community of Superior.

Winds did subside overnight, which helped the firefighting effort.

The Pickett Fire has burned nearly 1,000 acres and was 40 percent contained as of Monday morning.

Pinal County sheriff’s spokesman Tim Gaffney said the Boyce Thompson Arboretum, as well as several homes to the east, were evacuated early in the afternoon as the fire grew.

Spotters said that within 20 minutes of starting, the fire quickly had doubled in size. The fire moved fast because of dry brush and the high winds, said Linda Sullivan of the U.S. Forestry Service.

Crews focused on protecting the buildings of the arboretum.

“We are trying to hold this area and protect it. That is our main concern right now, that and our firefighter safety, is to protect this area,” said Sullivan.

Tonto National Forest representative Avi Kali said there were four engines and an air tanker assisting two local fire departments in fighting the fire.

U.S. 60 was closed part of Sunday but has reopened.

The fire started Sunday.

Arizona was under a red-flag warning Sunday as high temperatures and winds and low humidity created extreme wildfire danger.

The U.S. Forest Service has not released a cause of the fire.

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