Investigators: Sunflower Fire likely human caused

SUNFLOWER, AZ - Pauline Scanlon decided to spend her Mother's Day hiking Mount Ord, but instead of the normally picturesque views, Pauline and her husband saw the rapidly spreading Sunflower Fire .


"We didn't know what was going on. All we saw was fire. We didn't know if it was a controlled fire. It's just grown and grown, it looks like," said Pauline.

The Sunflower Fire started early Saturday morning and quickly grew to more than 2,700 acres.

Nearly 150 firefighters descended upon the area to battle the flames, but the lay of the land made firefighting extremely difficult.

"It's in very steep, rugged terrain. The only thing firefighters can do is use existing roads and trails as fire breaks," said Tonto National Forest Official Dave Killebrew.

Mother nature didn't want to cooperate either.

Wind speeds up to 25 miles per hour along with humidity readings in the single digits only helped the fire grow. As a result, firefighters report no containment.

"Hopefully they can get it under control. It's crazy how it spread so quickly," said Pauline's husband Brian.

Thankfully, few people live in this area so the fire hasn't threatened any homes, yet it still saddens hikers like the Scanlons to see such pristine forest go up in smoke.

"It's sad. So campers be careful. Put out your campfires. Protect our forest," said Pauline.

Investigators say this fire is likely human caused. It started near a place called the Cross F Ranch and quickly grew out of control.  

Police have had a hard time keeping people from stopping on Highway 87 to stop and look at this fire. 

The shoulder is closed so they're asking people to simply keep driving. A lot of the smoke you see is ending up in the Valley and in Payson. 

Officials said if you're sensitive to smoke, you may want to limit your time outdoors.  

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