Preparedness & Recovery

Arizona Has Most Wildfires Burning in the United States

Nearly 30 wildfires burned in Arizona on Monday -- accounting for the state having the most blazes in the nation, according to the Associated Press.

by Carmen Duarte, The Arizona Daily Star, Tucson / June 13, 2017
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The Lizard Fire in the Dragoon Mountains continues to grow and is at 15,131 acres as of Monday while thousands of wildland firefighters -- including crews from Western states -- battle fires in Arizona.

Nearly 30 wildfires burned in Arizona on Monday -- accounting for the state having the most blazes in the nation, according to the Associated Press.

The lightning-caused Lizard Fire began June 7 and is 40 percent contained with more than 600 firefighters assigned to it, according to Coronado National Forest officials. The fire is primarily fueled by tall grass and brush.

Crews scouted the fire's western and southern sides Monday searching for geographic features and roads firefighters could tie together to create breaks to help contain the blaze's progression and keep the fire away from populated areas and private lands, authorities said.

Meanwhile, officials lifted evacuation orders for some residents near the Lizard Fire, which is burning about two miles southeast of the community of Dragoon, which has about 200 residents.

However by Monday afternoon, an evacuation of residences in the Cochise Stronghold area remained in effect at the intersection of North Cochise Stronghold and West Ironwood Road and everything south and west from that point, said Carol Capas, a Cochise County Sheriff's spokeswoman.

Capas said firefighters were doing structure protection in that area and fighting the southern edge of the fire, and that would make it difficult to allow residents back to their homes.

A pre-evacuation order remains in place for the Sunsites and Pearce areas east of the Dragoon Mountains, Capas said. Residents in other areas that were evacuated were allowed to return to their homes.

Three helicopters assisted ground crews with water drops to protect structures near the Stronghold area. Dozens of engines, a hotshot crew and water tankers were assigned to the fire. Crews continue to work in two operational shifts for 24-hour coverage.

Efforts to protect a Baptist church camp, a power line corridor and other structures in the area on Saturday and overnight into Sunday were successful.

The Lizard Fire is one of several active wildfires in Cochise County, including the Bowie Fire and Rucker Fire. The Bowie Fire is more than 3,000 acres and is 90 percent contained. The Rucker Fire is 1,100 acres and is 61 percent contained.

Tiffany Davila, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Forestry and Fire Management, told the AP that at least 80 square miles are burning across Arizona. Crews from seven other states are helping control the fires.

The AP contributed to this story. Contact reporter Carmen Duarte at cduarte@tucson.com or 573-4104. On Twitter: @cduartestar

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©2017 The Arizona Daily Star (Tucson, Ariz.)

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