Arizona Wildfires

The Bighorn Fire burns late Saturday through the front range of the Santa Catalina Mountains from Ventana Canyon into the eastern end of the range with the lights of eastern Tucson, Ariz. The fire has consumed nearly 52,000 acres and is 16 percent contained.

PHOENIX — Hundreds of firefighters made some progress Monday against major wildfires 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 42 percent contained as of Monday after charring 291 square miles since it started June 13 in the Tonto National Forest.

The lightning-caused Bighorn Fire is 91 square miles, burning in canyons and on ridges in the Santa Catalina Mountains and hovering around 16 percent containment. 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 percent contained after burning 33 square miles in the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest north of Morenci. That blaze continues to burn in steep, inaccessible areas.

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey traveled to the Tucson area Monday to get a briefing from fire officials overseeing the fight and from law enforcement agencies charged with evacuating resort communities in the mountains near Tucson.

Ducey praised firefighters and promised to make sure whatever resources needed to protect people and property in and around Tucson will be brought to bear.

“But this fire is going to be put out — and the one resource we’re going to need in addition to the brave women and men that are fighting this fire is Mother Nature,” Ducey said. “The monsoon is going to be here, we’re going to have some precipitation. We’re going to contain this and protect the assets that are on the ground and we’ll get through this.”

Communities near Mount Lemmon, including Summerhaven, remain under evacuation orders and Pima County Sheriff Mark Napier urged residents to heed those “Go” orders.

“Because if you are in a ‘Go’ area, and we ask you to evacuate and you refuse to evacuate, we may not be able to come back in there and save you,” Napier said.

Napier also praised firefighters, saying they had successfully protected people and property from the blaze.

“This fire is nearly 60,000 acres, it’s been burning for more than two weeks, it’s less than 20 percent contained, and as of right now we haven’t lost a single structure,” Napier said. “That is amazing.”

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 28 percent contained Monday at 108 square miles 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.

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

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