Arizona wildfires: Bighorn Fire at 118,000 acres, 54% containment as others wrap up

01 July 2020

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USA – Fire crews were working to suppress wildfires’ last remaining hot spots around the Phoenix area Wednesday, while other major wildfires continued to burn across Arizona.

The Avondale Fire that started west of Phoenix on June 26 was completely contained Wednesday morning after burning more than 800 acres, state forestry officials said. Meanwhile, fire crews worked to increase containment past 98% on the nearly 200,000-acre Bush Fire northeast of Mesa. Evacuations for both fires had been lifted.

Other major wildfires continued to burn in the Santa Catalina Mountains, on the Navajo Nation and north of the Grand Canyon.

Bush Fire

Fire officials did not have an update on the Bush Fire as of Wednesday morning, but said Tuesday the fire had burned 193,455 acres in the Tonto National Forest and remained at 98% containment. The wildfire quickly became one of the largest wildfires in Arizona’s history in June.

“Interior burning activity and smoke may be present until the fire area receives widespread moisture from monsoons,” officials said.

U.S. Forest officials announced they would close most of Tonto National Forest starting Thursday due to ongoing “extreme fire danger” in the area. Evacuations in the nearby communities had been lifted in both Maricopa and Gila counties.

Bighorn Fire

The lightning-caused Bighorn Fire burned 118,370 acres in the Santa Catalina Mountains and was 54% contained Wednesday morning, according to fire officials. Firefighters were working to secure more fire lines and protect structures near Summerhaven and Willow Canyon.

Winds were expected to be about 10 to 15 mph in the region Wednesday, noticeably lighter than earlier in the week, officials said.

Several communities in the southeastern Catalina Foothills and eastern slope of the Catalina Mountains remained under evacuation, while others had been allowed to return home since the fire started on June 5.

Sabino Canyon, Bear Canyon and Catalina State Park remained closed.

Wood Springs 2 Fire

Residents in Sawmill and Fluted Rock were on high alert Wednesday as a wildfire burned nearly 9,000 acres with 0% containment in the eastern region of the Navajo Nation.

“The fire continues to steadily grow due to dry fuels and steep topography,” officials said Wednesday, when the fire’s spread was estimated at 8,999 acres.

The lightning-cause wildfire, named the Wood Springs 2 Fire, started June 27 in the area east of Wood Springs in Apache County. Officials said the fire was burning through juniper and ponderosa pines, sage and grasslands as conditions remained clear and dry. Fire officials expected wind gusts to increase up to 25 mph by the afternoon.

Nearly 400 people were working on the Wood Springs 2 Fire, according to InciWeb, a government tracking site.

Mangum Fire

The Mangum Fire burned 71,450 acres in the area north of the Grand Canyon and was 67% contained Wednesday, according to fire officials. More than 350 people were working on the wildfire, which started June 6 from an unknown source.

The fire team managing the blaze said low humidity and extremely dry fuel would keep fire conditions active Wednesday.

The North Rim of Grand Canyon National Park reopened for day use Tuesday, and officials warned visitors to the area to watch out for fire engines and take extra precautions over the Fourth of July holiday.

All evacuations had been lifted, and State Routes 67 and 89A were reopened to the public.

Reach the reporter at or on Twitter @helenwieffering.

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