AP News, Firefighting, News

Southern AZ Wildfire Grows to 167 Square Miles


TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) — More than 1,000 firefighters in southern Arizona continue to battle a wildland fire in extremely windy conditions in the Santa Catalina Mountains that has closed a state park and forced evacuations northeast of Tucson.

The fire sparked by lightning more than three weeks ago has now burned across more than 167 square miles (432 square kilometers) .

It was estimated Monday morning to be 45% contained. No one has died and no structures have been damaged but seven minor injuries have been reported since the fire broke out June 5.

Most of Arizona was under a red-flag warning Monday due to extreme fire danger. Winds are expected to gust up to 40 mph (64 kph) in dry conditions with low humidity.

“The weather service is telling us this could be one of the windiest days in the Tucson area in years,” incident commander Aaron Thompson said Monday.

Crews were focused Monday on protecting radio towers on Mount Lemmon. The nearby community of Summerhaven was among those areas under evacuation orders.

Residents in the southern Catalinas between Catalina Highway milepost 3 and Redington Road also were given evacuation orders Sunday night.

Sabino Canyon, Bear Canyon, Catalina State Park and part of Catalina Highway remain closed.