Arizona wildfires: Aquila Fire erupts in northeast Valley, forcing evacuations and burning 1,000 acres

23 June 2020

Published by

ARIZONA – As of Tuesday morning, the Bush Fire burning northeast of Fountain Hills did not grow overnight. The fire has burned 186,086 acres and is 61% contained.

Fire officials said the Central Fire burning near New River slowed Tuesday. The human-caused fire reached 4,499 acres while containment increased from zero to 23% in one day.

Crews restrained the Bighorn Fire burning northwest of Tucson from swelling in size.

Firefighters are also battling another fire north of the Grand Canyon.

The Arizona Department of Corrections, Rehabilitation and Reentry sent crews to help fight the Bighorn and Bush fires. Crews are made up of low-level offenders from state prisons.

Every year during fire season, the crews assist in fire suppression efforts.There are 113 inmates currently fighting the fires, all of which are professionally trained.

Aquila Fire

A quick-moving brush fire erupted northeast of the Carefree Highway and Interstate 17 around 3 p.m. Tuesday, according to Daisy Mountain Fire and Medical.

The fire burned 1,000 acres by 5 p.m. Tuesday including two structures, according to Arizona State Forestry. Windy conditions caused the flames to spread faster.

As the fire moved north through heavy vegetation, more than 200 homes were issued evacuations including the Joy Ranch subdivision.

Evacuations were issued for residents from Interstate 17 to 19th Avenue and from Cloud Road to Desert Hills Drive.

Firefighters stopped forward progress on the fire, which destroyed one primary structure and multiple secondary buildings, according to an Arizona Department of Forestry and Fire Management tweet around 7:30 p.m.

But a “SET” alert was issued for areas of 19th Avenue and Joy Ranch Road, telling people to prepare in case of evacuation due to the fire burning along Carefree Highway, according to an 8 p.m. tweet from the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office.

The American Red Cross opened an evacuation center at Boulder Creek High School in Anthem to help people who have been evacuated.

The Cave Creek Memorial Arena Rodeo Ground at 37201 N. 28th St. is also open to residents evacuating with livestock such as horses, according to MCSO.

Smoke was visible from a nearby rally where President Donald Trump spoke at Dream City Church.

The cause of the fire, which has multiple possible points of origin, is under investigation, according to the Arizona Department of Forestry and Fire Management.

Bush Fire

As of Tuesday morning, the Bush Fire has not grown overnight. The fire, which is burning northeast of Fountain Hills in the Tonto National Forest, has remained at 186,848 acres and is 61% contained.

Evacuation orders for Sunflower and Apache Lake residents were lifted Tuesday at noon, according to the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office. No communities in the area are under evacuation orders as of Tuesday afternoon.

Fire officials said favorable weather and successful suppression efforts led to less fire and smoke.

Decreased winds will cause smoke to settle in the Tonto Basin area and move northeast toward Payson potentially impacting Heber-Overgaard, Show Low, Fort Apache Reservation and the Interstate 17 corridor north of Phoenix.

The Gila County Sheriff’s Office said some highways will reopen to traffic Tuesday at noon including State Route 188 between State Route 87, south of Payson, and State Route 88 at Roosevelt Dam.

Bighorn Fire

The wildfire burning in the Catalina Mountains, northwest of Tucson, remained at 58,553 acres as of Tuesday morning and is 33% contained, according to an update from the incident management team.

Firefighters are working Tuesday to protect structures and contain the fire in the Mount Lemmon, Summerhaven and Willow Canyon areas.

Crews are monitoring the fire backing off the Samaniego Ridge, which is north of Mount Lemmon.

The area will see hot temperatures, light winds and low humidity.

Evacuation orders were issued for residences in the Mt. Bigelow & Lower Soldier HOA, Summerhaven, Willow Canyon and communities from the lower Mount Lemmon area from Organization Ridge Road to south Willow Canyon.

Communities that have been issued “SET” evacuation alerts include communities of Oracle, portions of East Golder Ranch, Catalina Foothills between Alvernon Way and Sabino Canyon Road — north of Skyline Drive — and Peppersauce Canyon to Highjinks Road and Campo Bonito.

Central Fire

The Central Fire is burning east of I-17 at New River where the blaze has burned 4,499 acres as of Tuesday morning. The human-caused fire is 23% contained.

The fire’s movement northeast toward New River Mesa has slowed and is away from structures, according to InciWeb, a government fire tracking site.

Hot and dry weather is expected to continue in the area with light winds with gusts of up to 20 miles per hour.

Mangum Fire

The fire north of the Grand Canyon spread to 71,043 acres as of Tuesday morning and is 33% contained, fire officials said.

The Mangum Fire burned across parts of the Kaibab Plateau in the Kaibab National Forest.

Tuesday’s weather forecast includes low humidity, hot and dry conditions, and an unstable atmosphere, which fire officials say is ideal for fire growth, according to the southwest incident management team.

Fire crews are focusing on the northeast portion of the blaze, where the fire remains active. Additionally, firefighters are reinforcing containment lines, monitoring for spot fires, conducting suppression repairs along the fire’s perimeter and dropping water.

State Route 89A was closed from Fredonia to Cliff Dwellings, and State Route 67 was closed between Jacob Lake and the Grand Canyon’s north rim. The north rim of Grand Canyon National Park was closed, along with portions of the Kaibab National Forest and Bureau of Land Management lands east of Fredonia.

Bringham Fire

The Bringham fire in eastern Arizona grew to 22,244 acres Tuesday and is 37% contained, according to the White Mountain Zone Type 3 Incident Management Team. Containment was at 37% on Tuesday afternoon.

The lightning-caused fire began near the Clifton Ranger District of the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest, near the town of Morenci, close to the border with New Mexico.

The Bringham Fire is burning in Strayhorse Canyon and slowly spreading toward Blue River and eastward into Bull and Thomas creeks, officials said.

Crews are monitoring the fires edge near U.S. 191 while helicopters drop water on hot spots.

The weather forecast for the area includes warmer temperatures, low humidity and moderate winds.

Contact the reporter at or on Twitter @WegnerHelena.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
WP-Backgrounds Lite by InoPlugs Web Design and Juwelier Schönmann 1010 Wien