Bush fire grows

Dawn Houghtaling/Courtesy photo The Bush fire in the Tonto National Forest is rapidly increasing. As of Monday, June 15, the Gila County Sheriff’s Office has put the communities of Punkin Center and Tonto Basin into a GO position, calling for the evacuation of these small communities. The American Red Cross is opening a shelter at Lee Kornegay School.

Tonto Basin moves to GO position

As of Monday morning the Tonto National Forests expanding Bush fire has increased to 14,371 acres. Thanks to Arizona’s hot, dry and windy conditions the fire is at 0 percent containment.

The Gila County Sheriff’s Office has put the communities of Punkin Center and Tonto Basin into a GO notification. This evacuation status includes Tonto Basin, Punkin Center from Hwy 188 and A-Cross Road to Hwy 188 at Rambo Realty. This includes all residents on both sides of the highway, and both sides of the creek.

Residents of Tonto Basin and Punkin Center should evacuate to a shelter or with family or friends outside of the dangerous areas. The American Red Cross will be opening a shelter at the Lee Kornegay School located at 4635 E. Ragus Rd., in Miami, Ariz. The Gila County Emergency Operations call center is available for any questions at 928-402-8888.

According to a U.S. Forest Service release this human caused fire is burning into the Four Peaks Wilderness, northeast of State Highway 87.

The fire is likely to resume spreading due to windy weather. Firefighters will continue full suppression tactics and public and firefighter safety are a top priority for suppression strategies.

On Saturday, June 13, State Route 87 was closed in both directions from the Bush Highway to State Route 188. With no estimated time for reopening, traffic is being detoured through Hwy 60 in Globe causing massive delays.

As of Monday morning there have been no structures damaged. Infrastructure protection for State Highway 87, powerlines, private property and sensitive recreation and heritage resources continue to be priorities for firefighting efforts.

The U.S. Forest Service states that as the fire progresses smoke will continue to be seen in the east Phoenix metropolitan valley, with heavy smoke impacting the Tonto Basin and Roosevelt Lake areas, along with recreation sites along the lower Salt River.

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