Sunflower Fire continues to grow near Payson

SUNFLOWER, AZ - The Sunflower Fire that started over the weekend in Arizona's Tonto National Forest has grown to 3,100 acres as of Monday morning.

Hotshot crews, air tankers and helicopters are battling the fire that was first spotted Saturday morning about 20 miles south of Payson. There is no containment at this time.


Tonto National Forest spokesman David Albo said the fire was moving in a northeasterly direction and primarily toward a wilderness area.

No structures were threatened by the fire and it had not prompted any evacuation orders.

About 140 people have been assigned to the Sunflower blaze along with six air tankers and two helicopters. Another 15 engines were ordered.

Authorities have yet to determine a suspected cause of the fire.

With May temperatures well above average, Arizona land managers have been warning residents that vegetation is dry and the risk of fire is considered to be very high in some areas.

The Bureau of Land Management is planning within the next week to implement restrictions to reduce the risk of fire on public lands north and south of Phoenix. The restrictions will prohibit campfires and wood stoves as well as limit smoking to within buildings and enclosed vehicles.

Crews on Sunday were also battling the Bull Flat fire, which was thought to have been sparked by a lighting strike south of the Canyon Creek Fish Hatchery on the Fort Apache Indian Reservation.

The fire was burning brush, grass and dead and down fuels on the reservation and in the Tonto Forest. Flames were most active on its northeastern flank, but no structures were threatened.

By Sunday afternoon, the fire had charred more than 480 acres. It was about 35 percent contained.

East of Prescott, crews were able to contain a 30-acre blaze that had briefly forced the evacuation of 20 homes in the Cherry Creek subdivision. The Yavapai County Sheriff's Office said residents were allowed to return Saturday evening.

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