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Arizona is burning: Bush Fire in Tonto National Forest near Phoenix, 3 others rage in triple-digit temperatures

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Four major wildfires were burning in triple-digit temperatures across Arizona on Monday, torching about 125,000 acres and forcing evacuations for some residents near the Tonto and Kaibab national forests.

The Bush Fire, the largest of the blazes, swelled an additional 27,000 acres northeast of Phoenix on Tuesday, with 0% containment, forcing another round of evacuations 

Hot and dry temperatures with low humidity levels are forecast through the week, creating conditions that are for ripe for quick fire growth. 

Fire crews were also working to contain wildfires in other corners of the state.

Hot, hot, hot: ‘Megadrought’ emerging in the western US might be worse than any in 1,200 years

The Mangum Fire has burned close to 30,000 acres with 3% containment just north of the Grand Canyon’s North Rim.

Near Tucson, firefighters were able to secure 30% containment of the 16,000-acre Bighorn Fire, which was ignited by a lightning strike in the Santa Catalina Mountains.

The Bringham Fire, which has burned for 10 days in the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest, had charred 14,625 acres as of Tuesday afternoon, with 5% containment.

Bush Fire

The Bush Fire, which spread quickly over the weekend due to hot and dry conditions,  had grown to approximately 64,513 acres as of Tuesday morning in the Tonto National Forest, prompting evacuations and multiple road closures.

Heavy smoke was expected to continue drifting over the Roosevelt Lake and Tonto Basin areas. The glowing lights of the flames could be seen from communities in Fountain Hills, according to pictures and worried comments on social media.

Officials said Monday that no structures had been damaged in the Bush Fire, and that firefighters are working to protect power lines and private property from the flames.

The Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office issued evacuation orders for the Sunflower and Apache Lake areas on Tuesday after Gila County evacuated communities in Tonto Basin and Punkin Center on Monday.

The human-caused fire remains under investigation.

Mangum Fire

The Mangum Fire was 3% contained and burning 29,689 acres in the Kaibab National Forest as of Tuesday morning. Officials added that windy conditions would make firefighting efforts difficult throughout the day.

The fire is concentrated about nine miles southwest of the campsites and hotel near the small unincorporated community of Jacob Lake. The Coconino County Sheriff’s Office evacuated approximately 280 people from the Jacob Lake recreational area, according to the Arizona Emergency Information Network.

The Arizona Department of Transportation closed SR 89A between Fredonia and the Cliff Dwellers roadside stop. SR 67 is also closed between Jacob Lake and the North Rim in the Grand Canyon National Park.

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Bighorn Fire

Firefighters took advantage of humid conditions on Tuesday to increase containment of the Bighorn Fire in the Santa Catalina Mountains to 30% after an infrared flight Monday night measured the fire at approximately 15,805 acres, according to the Southwest Coordination Center. 

The Arizona Emergency Information Network reported three minor heat-related injuries due to the Bighorn Fire. No property had been damaged, but officials estimated 8,380 structures were threatened.

The lightning-caused wildfire has been burning through the steep and rugged terrain of the Coronado National Forest since June 5. Officials said Tuesday they are working to stop the fire’s momentum near Romero Pass, clearing timber, brush and other fire fuel to “create solid, defensible space.”

Bringham Fire

The Bringham Fire has burned 14,625 acres in the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest and was 5% contained as of Tuesday. Officials said the fire’s growth had recently slowed due to lower temperatures and cloud cover.

The Bringham Fire, which was ignited by lightning on June 6,is concentrated in the Clifton Ranger District in southeastern Arizona.

Contributing: Helena Wegner and Perry Vandell, The Arizona Republic.

Reach the reporter at Helen.Wieffering@arizonarepublic.com or on Twitter @helenwieffering.

Read or Share this story: https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2020/06/16/bush-fire-arizona-tonto-kaibab-national-forest/3203287001/



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