Thursday, May 17, 2012

Firefighters widen Sunflower containment lines

Sunflower Fire Update
May 17, 2012 5:00 p.m.

Acres:  14,465                                     
Start date:  May 12, 2012
Cause:  Under Investigation               
Location:  21 miles south of Payson
Containment: 15 percent                     
Fuels:  Grass, chaparral, pinyon pine
Terrain:  Steep, rugged                        
Resources:  15 crews, 17 engines, 2 dozers, 7 water tenders
Total personnel: 610                            
Available air support:  7 helicopters, 6 air tankers

Summary: Firefighters continue to focus on holding the Sunflower Fire west of the high voltage transmission lines and Arizona State Route 87.  Burnout operations are being conducted this afternoon in anticipation of strong winds forecast for Friday.  This action will increase the width of containment lines along private property boundaries and Forest Road 393 in the southwest section of the fire.  Other fire lines on the northeast side of the fire are also being reinforced.  

With the approach of the weekend, motorists are asked to be extra cautious and aware of fire related traffic as they travel along Highway 87 toward Payson.  Drivers should expect to encounter firefighting vehicles between the Verde River and Arizona State Highway 188.  Fire traffic will be entering the northbound lanes near the Verde River, and the southbound lanes near the Mt. Ord Road.  Please be particularly cautious in these areas.

The area closure around the Sunflower Fire and fire restrictions within the Tonto National Forest remain in effect.   

Bull Flat Fire Update
May 17, 2012, 11 a.m.

Fire Facts
Date started: May 10, 2012
Number of personnel: 328
Location: Fort Apache Agency and Tonto NF
Equipment: 7 engines, 2 dozers, 2 water tenders
Cause:  Lightning
Aircraft: 1 light and 1 heavy helicopter
Size: 1,900 acres

Percent contained: 50
Estimated containment date: May 25, 2012
Injuries to date: 0
Estimated cost to date: $1,586,987
Property threatened: none

Fire Activity:   Wednesday night’s small burnout operation on the northeast section of the fire was successfully completed. The success of that operation will aid firefighters in today’s planned aerial ignition of a larger snag and bluff patch. The proliferation of dead snags in that area makes it unsafe for ground firefighters to work.

Closures/Restrictions and Advisories:  
  • Tonto National Forest officials announced Wednesday a temporary closure due to the Bull Flat Fire. The closure boundary starts at the intersection of Forest Road (FR) 512 and FR 33 and follows FR 512 south to its intersection with FR 358, then following FR 358 east to its intersection with the forest boundary. The boundary then follows the forest boundary north and turns directly east to the intersection of FR 34 and FR 188, then follows FR 34 north to its intersection with FR 33 and follows FR 33 west to its intersection with FR 512.
  • FR 512 and FR 33 will remain open for travel during this closure.
  • The Tonto National Forest has also initiated Stage 1 Fire Restrictions. For more information regarding forest recreation sites and fire restrictions, please contact the Tonto National Forest at (602) 225-5200, or check online at
  • Residents and visitors in the Heber-Overgaard area may experience a little drift smoke from the Bull Flat fire. Most of the drift smoke in the area is coming from other fires, primarily the Sunflower Fire 20 miles southwest of Payson. Those with respiratory challenges should take precautions. Smoke can also reduce visibility for motorists particularly during nighttime hours. The public is urged to drive cautiously in smoky conditions.
The fire is currently burning on lands administered by the Fort Apache Agency and the Pleasant Valley Ranger District of the Tonto National Forest.

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