Highline Fire: Crews trying to slow growth of wildfire north of Payson

PAYSON, AZ - Two small communities in east-central Arizona have been evacuated because of a wildfire that continues to grow.

Spokesman Mike Reichling of the team managing the fire burning approximately 15 miles northeast of Payson says La Cienega Estates and Ellison Creek Estates were ordered evacuated Thursday evening.

"It's scary to see the smoke and to think it's within miles," Julie Ruttle, who has been evacuated for past fires, said.  "If the wind changes we might have to evacuate, but this kind of goes with living in these kind of areas."

 Ruttle is also fielding calls from friends with weekend cabins nearby.

"They've been checking in, just to see where it's at, so we've been kind of giving them updates as we go," Ruttle said.

Reichling says the fire is about 1.5 miles from the communities, which have 50 to 100 mostly seasonal and weekend homes. There are no reports of structures being destroyed.

"If it's this hot and there's a wind, it's scary," said Ruth Ryden. Her home in Whispering Pines is just outside the evacuation area.  It's near a popular recreation and camping area in the Tonto National Forest, where there's been a fire ban for weeks. "You have people up here camping who have no concept of what's going on." Ryden said.

Reichling says firefighters are working to keep the fire from reaching forested areas above the Mogollon Rim.

Approximately 1,070 personnel are assigned to the fire, which started June 10 and later merged with a smaller fire.

The total acreage is estimate at 6.6 square miles of forest, grass and brush.

No homes have burned as of Friday afternoon. 

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