Sawmill Fire burns more than 40000 acres in southern Arizona

by Dwayne Torres April 28, 2017, 1:05
Sawmill Fire burns more than 40000 acres in southern Arizona

And on Friday, the windy conditions are expected to continue with gusts up to 45 miles per hour because of a storm that will pass through the burning area on into New Mexico, said Carl Cerniglia, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Tucson.

The so-called Sawmill fire is now 20 percent contained and has burned more than 63 square miles - an area larger than Manhattan - as of Thursday morning.

He says several communities in the area are under pre-evacuation.

The man was firing at exploding targets when brush apparently ignited near Box Canyon and the Santa Rita Ranch about 11 a.m.

Officials had said before the new estimate was released Wednesday afternoon that they expected aerial mapping would provide a better calculation of the fire's size.

Homeowners were allowed to return to their homes in the Singing Valley and Greaterville areas Wednesday after being evacuated Monday. The fire was likely caused by humans, according to officials.

A 15-mile stretch of State Route 83, which cuts through the mountains from Sonoita north toward Tucson, has been closed, reported, and a temporary shelter was set up at the Sonoita fairgrounds.

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Some 600 fire personnel are battling the blaze that started southeast of Green Valley Sunday, near the Santa Rita Mountains.

The nuns all stayed at a bed-and-breakfast. Service roads on the Arizona National Scenic Trail include roads 4110 to 4072, said Schewel.

"We have roughly 360 people on the fire at the moment".

The Type 1 incident management team took over Thursday from a Type 2 team that previously replaced a Type 3 team.

Hotshot crews from Payson, Globe, Aravaipa, Blue Ridge and Prescott are assigned to the fire, which has three helicopters, five air tankers and 20 fire engines. The blaze was about 12 miles from the community of J-6 Ranch, she said.

The Sawmill Fire is burning in lands under the jurisdiction of the Coronado National Forest, U.S. Bureau of Land Management and the Arizona Department of Forestry and Fire Management. Crews were also prioritizing structure protection efforts in Rain Valley, which was evacuated, and the Empire Ranch area, officials said.

These conditions created the flawless combination for a fire, a Green Valley Fire Department spokesperson told KGUN, and all it needed was a small spark.

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