Saturday, May 26, 2012

Firefighters on Sunflower Fire get help from change in weather

May 26, 2012 1:00 p.m.
Fire Information: (575) 302-2107

Acres:  17,618                                     Start date:  May 12, 2012
Cause:  Under Investigation               Location:  21 miles south of Payson
Containment: 43 percent                     Fuels:  Grass, chaparral, pinyon pine
Terrain:  Steep, rugged                        Resources:  2 crews, 5 engines,
Total personnel: 67                              Available air support: 1 helicopter

Summary: Cooler temperatures lower relative humidity and decreased winds are providing some relief for fire personnel assigned to the Sunflower Fire. A red flag warning expected for today has been removed due to a favorable change in weather conditions.

Minimal fire activity is also being attributed to changing weather conditions.  Smoke is expected to linger in the steep, treacherous terrain of the Mazatzal Wilderness until sufficient precipitation is received. Patrol, monitoring and fire line reinforcement will continue in accordance with fire activity.  Sunflower Fire resources are gradually being downsized as they complete 14-day assignments. 

Burned Area Emergency Response (BAER) Team transition is ongoing.  The BAER team is a group of resource specialists requested by the Tonto National Forest to go into burned areas, assess impacts from the fire, draft mitigation/rehabilitation measures if needed, and submit recommendations to the forest.  BAER teams may include specialists in soils, hydrology, vegetation, wildlife, archaeology, range or other specialties as needed.

Firefighters were in the right place at the right time yesterday afternoon as a vehicle traveling north on State Route 87 (the Beeline Highway) apparently overheated and the motor burst into flames.  A nearby fire engine crew was able to extinguish the flames and prevent fire spread in vegetation along the east side of the highway. Strong winds were blowing toward the east at the time of the vehicle fire.  The Sunflower Fire is located on the west side of State Route 87.  Traffic was backed up in both northbound lanes as the burned vehicle was removed from the area.

Fire danger is extreme. Traffic and recreational activities are increased due to the Memorial Day weekend.  Please be reminded of fire restrictions in effect within the Tonto National Forest.  Forest information may be viewed online at

For statewide road conditions and closures please go to or dial 5-1-1 from any landline or mobile phone from anywhere in Arizona.  (From outside Arizona, dial 1-888-411-ROAD (7623) or 602-523-0244).

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