NATIONAL NEWS

The Area Around Arizona’s Wildfires Is So Dry, Firefighters’ Heavy Equipment Is Causing Small Flareups

Jun 9, 2021, 7:35 AM
Glow from the Telegraph Fire falls on firefighting resources as they work through the night (U.S. F...
Glow from the Telegraph Fire falls on firefighting resources as they work through the night (U.S. Forest Service)
(U.S. Forest Service)

(CNN) — The area near where two large wildfires have been growing for days in eastern Arizona is so dry that firefighters trying to tame the blaze have started fires sparked by their own equipment, officials said Tuesday.

The Telegraph Fire has burned more than 76,000 acres and the Mescal Fire has scorched more than 65,000 acres, according to the Interagency Incident Information Center.

“Even our own fire equipment is starting fires,” said Dean McAlister, a fire information officer. “The blades and the tracks of the (heavy equipment) sparking against the fuels have actually created some fires along the fire line.”

In his Tuesday night update, McAlister added that crews have been able to put out those smaller fires as they happen, but they are asking people to keep their own vehicles away from the area to avoid their own accidental ignition.

The Telegraph Fire was 18% contained, according to the information center. The nearby Mescal wildfire was 23% contained.

McAlister expressed optimism to increase containment despite the dry conditions

“Things are looking fairly good for the situation we’ve got with the weather we’ve got,” McAlister said.

The Telegraph Fire, which was detected by fire officials on Friday afternoon, has burned five structures so far, officials said Tuesday in a Facebook post.

“Fire managers had a busy day on the fire involving fire suppression and removal of members of the public that went into the fire closure area,” officials said in the post.

Evacuations remain in place and residents are advised to monitor the Gila County Health and Emergency Management Facebook page for any changes to evacuation orders, officials said.

Authorities believe the fire was started by a person but are still investigating the cause. No deaths or injuries have been reported in either fire.

While the Mescal Fire has grown since Monday, authorities told some residents on the San Carlos Apache Reservation they could return home.


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The Area Around Arizona’s Wildfires Is So Dry, Firefighters’ Heavy Equipment Is Causing Small Flareups