Sawtooth Fire grows to 18,500 acres in Tonto National Forest

Independent Newsmedia
Posted 5/31/20

The Sawtooth Fire is burning in the Superstition Wilderness area of the Tonto National Forest.

The fire, which was lightning caused, is partially within the Woodbury Fire scar, according to a …

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Sawtooth Fire grows to 18,500 acres in Tonto National Forest

Posted

The Sawtooth Fire is burning in the Superstition Wilderness area of the Tonto National Forest.

The fire, which was lightning caused, is partially within the Woodbury Fire scar, according to a release. This area has an excess of grass and brush growth as a result of the above average winter moisture.

The fire is 18,500 acres and 8% contained as of Monday afternoon. About 200 firefighters are assigned to the fire.

Firefighters, aided by airtankers and a helicopter, have provided structure protection for the Quarter Circle U Ranch and JF Ranch Headquarters. Much of the terrain in the Superstition Wilderness is steep, rocky and provides little to no shading of vegetation.

The communities of Elephant Butte, Hardt Tank, and Angel Basin were evacuated Monday morning. An evacuation center has been set up at the Queen Valley Community Center.

Smoke and flames from the incident have been visible from the eastern valley. According to the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality, smoke is forecast to continue moving northward. Smoke was also forecasted to move toward the south into Queen Valley late Sunday, where it is anticipated to lift by 9 a.m. Monday, June 1. With a similar anticipated weather pattern Monday, smoke was forecasted to continue moving north through Apache Lake, Roosevelt Lake, and Tortilla Flat.

Peralta Road leading to the Peralta Trailhead is closed north of where the pavement ends.  Officials are asking the general public to avoid the fire area to allow crews to continue to safely build containment lines around the Sawtooth Fire.

"While this fire is in the same area as last year’s Woodbury Fire, it is too early to determine the future the size and intensity of the Sawtooth Fire," said Matthew Lane, Mesa District Ranger.  “As with every incident, we take a strategic, measured approach to ensure the safety of the public and our firefighters."

In Pinal County, the 3,286-acre Range Fire is 100% contained as of Sunday night, according to the Arizona Department of Forestry and Fire Management.

The fire started Thursday afternoon on the National Guard Firing Range north of Florence.

In the Cave Creek area, the Ocotillo Fire, which has burned 980 acres with 67% containment as of Monday afternoon, had forced evacuations in the area and destroyed several properties.

Forestry officials said the fire is believed to be human-caused and was reported Saturday afternoon. Some 500 homes were evacuated, involving about 1,000 residents. Some residents were allowed to return home Sunday night with the rest by noon Tuesday.

Authorities said the brush fire destroyed 20 structures including eight primary residences.

State Forestry officials said the fire was fueled by triple-digit temperatures, dry vegetation and wind gusts as it more than doubled in size over a two-hour period Saturday.

Residents in that area were directed to Cactus Shadows High School for resources.

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