“The IAFF is monitoring the progression of this fire and others,” says General President Harold Schaitberger. “Our thoughts are with our members as they work in these extraordinarily difficult conditions.”
“The terrain and extreme weather are making it very difficult for our members out in the field. Safety is a real concern,” says 10th District Vice President Frank Lima. “As always, we are ready to provide as much assistance as needed.”
The fire has grown to more than 150,000 acres since a vehicle fire ignited it on June 14. It is currently the largest fire burning anywhere in the United States and the fifth largest fire in Arizona history.
“This fire is in tough, desert terrain,” says Professional Fire Fighters of Arizona President Bryan Jeffries. “Some of the spots are too dangerous to have ground operations, so our members have had to be strategic about the areas where they do go. Planes making drops from the air have been helpful. Still, it could be weeks before this fire is contained.”
On top of the tough terrain, the weather is not expected to cooperate. Already hot temperatures in the Tonto National Forest are expected to climb, further drying out vegetation and fueling the fire.
Thus far, no structures have been lost, but as the fire spreads, nearby communities are being evacuated.
Another serious fire, known as the Bighorn Fire, continues to burn northeast of Tucson. Sparked by lightning, the fire has burned more than 38,000 acres. And, farther north, the Mangum Fire has already consumed about 57,000 acres of the Kaibab National Forest and has necessitated road closures around the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.