Containment of southern Arizona wildfire at 20 percent

1500 Acres Burn Near Arizona's Madera Canyon
Sawmill Fire Spreads Overnight Above Green Valley, Arizona
Author

28 April, 2017

He says several communities in the area are under pre-evacuation.

The evacuees included a local fire chief's family who left their home to temporarily stay in Tucson and 11 nuns who left their abbey and took refuge at a bed-and-breakfast.

The fire was 7 percent contained, the same as Tuesday, but the acreage had grown to 40,350.

"Yes, in the sense that the areas where they're mopping up, the fire has passed through and they're just making sure they have a clearing so the fire doesn't jump", Cordova said. Closures are still in place on the Arizona Scenic Trail and Highway 83 north of Sonoita.

The fire has burned 31.2 square miles (80.81 sq. kilometers) of grass, brush and trees since starting Sunday about 10 miles southeast of Green Valley.

Fire management team spokesman Manny Cordova said some mop-up has begun where the fire has calmed down, but he said the worst may not be over.

Sawmill fire map
Sawmill fire map approximate perimeter 2:38 a.m. MDT

Evacuation orders have been lifted for Greaterville and Singing Valley and they'll be allowed to use Highway 83 to access their homes, but the road remains closed to everyone else.

Fire management team spokesman John Cambra said winds gusting up to 25 miles per hour made use of air tankers ineffective, and forest spokeswoman Heidi Schewel said gusty winds and rough terrain contributed to the fire's growth in the Santa Rita Mountains southeast of Tucson. Despite Arizona recording one of its best winter in years in terms of rain and snowfall, experts estimate the southern two-thirds of the state will experience higher-than-usual fire danger by the summer.

Due to the increasing complexity of the blaze, management of the blaze transitioned to a Type I Incident Management Team Thursday, Inciweb reported. Ranch owners were alerted that they could move their horses and cattle to the fairgrounds in Sonoita, which will serve as an evacuation center for livestock as well as people.

The Sawmill Fire is burning in lands under the jurisdiction of the Coronado National Forest, U.S. Bureau of Land Management and the Arizona Department of Forestry and Fire Management.

Hotshot crews from Payson, Globe, Aravaipa, Blue Ridge and Prescott are assigned to the fire, which has three helicopters, five air tankers and 20 fire engines.

The fire started Sunday about 10 miles (16.1 kilometers) southeast of Green Valley.

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