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Firefighters Trying To Contain Several Arizona Wildfires Amid Hot, Dry Conditions

Tonto National Forest

Wildfire danger throughout Arizona and the Southwest remains very high this week. Firefighters are battling several large blazes throughout the state amid near-record temperatures and extreme dryness. KNAU’s Ryan Heinsius reports.

Crews are continuing their attempts to contain the Slate Fire about 20 miles north of Flagstaff that was first reported more than a week ago. Heavy winds have fanned the flames across thousands of acres of pinyon and juniper, and officials have closed nearby parts of the Coconino National Forest.

"We are in a drought, it is really hot. Today’s minimum humidity is 7 to 12%. Yesterday we had some adverse wind conditions, which caused some spot fires. It’s never great when we have windy conditions and hot weather. We just ask the public to be very, very careful," says forest spokesperson Randi Shaffer.

Officials have now reopened Highway 180 to the Grand Canyon after it was closed for several days.

Elsewhere, firefighters have nearly stopped forward progress of a wildfire in Cornville. It started on national forest land and spread to private property. A federal incident management team has assumed command and evacuation orders have now been lifted.

Governor Doug Ducey, meanwhile, has issued emergency declarations for the massive Mescal and Telegraph fires east of Phoenix, and the state Legislature has convened for a special session.

Heightened campfire bans are in place across much of Arizona.  

Ryan joined KNAU's newsroom as executive producer in 2013. He covers a broad range of stories from local, state and tribal politics to education, economy, energy and public lands issues, and frequently interviews internationally known and regional musicians. Ryan is an Edward R. Murrow Award winner and a Public Media Journalists Association Award winner, and a frequent contributor to NPR's Morning Edition, All Things Considered and national newscast.
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