Forest Service fire managers report significant progress fighting the 6,634-acre Highline Fire north of Payson. KNAU’s Ryan Heinsius reports, it’s now 76 percent contained and all evacuation orders have been lifted.
Crews have strengthened containment lines around the fire that’s burning in steep, treacherous canyons along the Mogollon Rim. They’re conducting burnout operations to protect area homes as firefighters work in the 100-plus-degree heat.
Richard Hadley with the Highline Fire command team says despite the progress, changing weather could add to the challenges.
"The forecast is for thunderstorms to develop—dry thunderstorms—across this portion of Arizona, and of course with those you can get erratic, strong winds coming off of those thunderstorms and potential new fire starts," Hadley says.
Hadley says residents of more than 100 homes were allowed to return over the weekend. The more than 1,200 Highline Fire personnel will act as first responders to any additional wildfires in the area.
Officials say fuels in Arizona’s forests are extremely dry and resources are stretched thin as more than a dozen burn across the state. Fire restrictions are in effect for all Arizona national forests and state lands, as well as several counties and cities.