Residents of Arizona are watching a number of massive wildfires cover their usually blue summer skies with smoke.
The biggest fire in the state, named the Bush Fire, has now become the largest active fire burning in the entire U.S., according to the Arizona Republic. The Bush Fire alone has burned 186,967 acres as of Wednesday evening according to the last update by InciWeb, a government incident information system.
Some of the largest active fires in the state include the Bush Fire, the Magnum Fire, the Bighorn Fire and the Central Fire.
The USFS Wildland Fire Air Quality Response Program is issuing smoke forecasts for the surrounding areas. Neighboring states have issued safety warnings and health alerts concerning the smoke blown from the areas by high winds.
#AirQuality alert! 115,000-acre Bush Fire on #TontoNF in AZ is sending #smoke to NM. ABQ has issued #health alerts. #CDC says #wildfire #smoke can exacerbate symptoms and health consequences of #COVID19. #staysafe #stayindoors #onelessspark #onlyyou pic.twitter.com/y0KPhSPVn0
— Santa Fe NF (@SantafeNF) June 18, 2020
UPDATE: @NOAA‘s #GOES16🛰️continued to track the #smoke from 3 large #wildfires in #AZ last evening. The #BushFire near #Phoenix is currently the largest #fire in the U.S. Also seen are the #MangumFire (N. AZ) and the #BighornFire (near #Tucson). #Arizona #AZwildfire #AZFire pic.twitter.com/tnu8CZJ3HA
— NOAA Satellites – Public Affairs (@NOAASatellitePA) June 17, 2020
Here is everything you should know about the active wildfires in Arizona:
The Bush Fire
According to InciWeb, the Bush Fire is currently 86 percent contained with 417 fire-fighting personnel and machines working to keep the perimeter secure.
The fire, located around 22 miles northeast of Mesa, Arizona, was human-caused on June 13 at approximately 2 p.m., fueled by the tall grass and brush in the area as well as unfavorable weather conditions.
— Jamie Kagol (@jamiekagol) June 20, 2020
The Tonto Basin and Punkin Center areas were issued a “Go” evacuation notice on June 15 followed by the Sunflower and Apache Lake areas on June 16, according to the official Bush Fire information page.
The Smoke Outlook report issued Thursday morning said the perimeter did not grow as of Wednesday morning. On Tuesday, firefighters were still combating hotspots inside the perimeter that were creating plumes of smoke and swirling ash.
According to National Weather Service Pheonix, the fire is the fifth-largest fire in the history of the state.
The Magnum Fire
The Magnum Fire, located near the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, has burned 71,325 acres as of Thursday morning, according to InciWeb.
Authorities have estimated that the fire started at about 3 p.m. on June 8, but the cause of the fire is still under investigation.
— Kaibab NF (@KaibabNF) June 13, 2020
On June 17, residences in the Jacob Lake area were evacuated, according to the Southwest incident Management Team #3. The North Rim of the Grand Canyon cannot be accessed because of road closures.
Because of hot and dry weather conditions, the fire continues to rage against the 599 total personnel currently on duty. They are predominately focusing their efforts in the northeast quadrant, where the fire is most active.
The perimeter of the fire is 68 percent contained.
The Bighorn Fire
According to InciWeb, the Bighorn Fire started on June 5 as a result of a lightning strike that hit the mountains northwest of Tuscon at approximately 10 p.m. Dry and windy conditions are pushing the fire into hard-to-reach areas of the mountains.
“As the fire grows, our containment is going to go down,” operations section chief Travis Mayberry said to the Arizona Republic. “This fire is up in the mountain range, it’s the same story. We can’t put boots on the ground up there.”
The Thursday morning update issued on the Bighorn Fire Facebook page reported the fire is covering 81,702 acres. The fire is 33 percent contained and 1,072 personnel are helping to fight it.
— ABC News (@ABC) June 18, 2020
Governor Doug Ducey visited Tuscon on Monday to address the Bighorn Fire and COVID-19 concerns among first responders and local residents, according to KOLD-TV.
Mt. Bigelow & Lower Soldier HOA, the community of Summerhaven, Willow Canyon, and parts of the Lower Catalina Highway/Lower Mt. Lemmon communities were still on a “Go” evacuation notice as of Thursday morning, according to a Facebook update.
The Central Fire
Located four miles northeast of New River, the Central Fire burned 4,499 acres as of Wednesday morning, according to InciWeb. The human-caused fire started on June 20.
The #CentralFireTontoNF will remain highly visible throughout the night. We will have resources in place to ensure all structures are protected. The fire is moving away from homes and to the NE, further into the @TontoForest. The fire is approximately 1,500 acres. pic.twitter.com/qDADeEE4KG
— Daisy Mtn Fire & Medical (@DaisyMtnFire) June 21, 2020
About 135 personal are currently fighting the fire, but they are having trouble reaching it as high winds continue to push it into the Robbers Roost Canyon area.
“Crews are being transported by utility vehicles (UTV) and shuttled via helicopters in order to safely and effectively access the fire for suppression efforts. Aerial resources are assisting with suppression efforts as needed,” the incident overview reads.
The fire, which on Thursday morning was 69 percent contained, is most active in the northeast and is not threatening any structures.
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