Fire threats in Arizona could last into fall, experts say

The Woodbury Fire has lit up the Superstition Mountains, although so far the blaze has not been a major threat to homes. The incident management team said a variety of suppression actions created “a contiguous line around the fire, and stop is spread southwest towards state and private lands, and local communities.

Fire experts say with high temperatures, combined with an increasing amount of brush drying up from the wet winter, the fire danger is high — particularly in southern Arizona, where the threat is above-average.

At least nine wildfires are burning around Arizona, only three of which are prescribed burns.

Two fires burning in the Tonto National Forest northeast of Phoenix were human caused, officials said, but they’re burning away from structures.

Bryan Henry, assistant predictive services program manager with the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, Idaho, said this year’s monsoon season may be delayed, meaning the danger for wildfires will likely continue further into the fall than usual.

The weather patterns that gave Arizona its extra-wet winter may also kick up heavier winds in summer, Henry said, which could exacerbate fire conditions.

Similarly, the lower temperatures and humidity that kept Arizona’s grasses from drying out appear to be coming to an end as the summer heat settles in.

Brad Widhalm, a spokesman with the Central West Region of the Tonto National Forest, warned residents against stopping in the area to watch the fire.

“They shouldn’t be stopping to take pictures, ‘cause they’re just creating a hazard for themselves plus other people that are driving along the road,” Widhalm said.

Officials said the fire “requires implementing a variety of firefighting tactics commensurate with steep, rugged terrain, wilderness values and extreme fire behavior.”

The Woodbury Fire in the Superstition Mountains on Monday was reported to have moved east and dropping ash on Tonto Basin and Roosevelt.

However, no evacuations have been deemed necessary because retardant and water drops have successfully hindered the blaze from gaining much ground in the direction of homes.

Firefighters are using fire to conduct burnout operations which will stop the spread of the wildfire to the north.

Brush along its eastern edge “is slowly carrying the fire towards the east,” officials said, adding, firefighters are assessing opportunities to construct fire breaks outside of the wilderness boundary.

Firefighting efforts on the north end of the fire will concentrate on protecting campgrounds, infrastructure, powerlines, and businesses along State Highways 88 and 188.

This inclujdes Canyon Lake, Apache Lake, Tortilla Flats and various campgrounds.

However, Saguaro, Bartlee and Roosevelt lakes remain open.

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