AP News, News, Wildland Firefighting

Firefighters Battle Four Wildfires in AZ

The Central Fire in Tonto National Forest moves to the top of New River Mesa, away from structures.
The Central Fire in Tonto National Forest moves to the top of New River Mesa, away from structures. Photo credit: Tonto National Forest

PHOENIX (AP) — Hundreds of firefighters continued to battle three major wildfires burning Sunday in forested mountains and desert hills across Arizona.

Crews were fighting fires in the Santa Catalina Mountains in the Coronado National Forest overlooking Tucson, in the Tonto National Forest northeast of metro Phoenix, the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest in northeast Arizona and in the Kaibab National Forest north of the Grand Canyon.

Authorities said the human-caused Bush Fire outside of metro Phoenix was 15% contained as of Sunday after charring 273 square miles (707 square kilometers) since it started June 13 in the Tonto National Forest.

The lightning-caused Bighorn Fire (80 square miles, 207 square kilometers) burning in canyons and on ridges in the Santa Catalina Mountains was pushed back to 19% containment after growing by 14 square miles (36 square kilometers) by Sunday. But fire officials said the blaze diminished as it reached vegetation at the base of Ventana Canyon.

Meanwhile, authorities said the lightning-caused Bringham Fire was 20% contained by Sunday after burning 31 square miles (80 square kilometers) in the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest north of Morenci. That blaze continues to burn in steep, inaccessible areas.

In northern Arizona, improved weather conditions allowed firefighters to protect critical areas from the Mangum Fire burning in the Kaibab National Forest.

The blaze was 23% contained Sunday at 103 square miles (266 square kilometers) with its June 8 cause still under investigation. It has forced the closure of the North Rim of the Grand Canyon National Park until further notice.

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