Crews battle wildfire northeast of Payson

BEAR CANYON LAKE, AZ - A wildfire that sparked in northern Arizona Sunday afternoon has grown to 400 acres as it continues to spread through rough terrain.

Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest spokeswoman Pamela Baltimore said the Willow Fire was reported around 1:30 p.m. about one mile north of Bear Canyon Lake on the Mogollon Rim. Bear Canyon Lake is about 44 miles northeast of Payson and 25 miles west of Heber-Overgaard.

According to Baltimore, the fire is moving in a northeasterly direction.

There are several structures just one to two miles north of the Willow Fire, though they are not currently threatened by the blaze, according to fire officials.

Baltimore said two dozers, seven 20-person crews and eight engines are on scene fighting the fire. A Type II team has also been ordered to manage suppression efforts.

The fire is said to be extremely active due to high winds in the area, with crowning and spotting observed.

The windy conditions have also hampered helicopters and other aerial attacks on the flames, Baltimore said.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

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