Aerial operations should benefit from moderated winds on the Sawmill Fire

April 26, 2017 - 11:19 am

Estimated Acres: 20,000

Start Date: April 23, 2017

Cause: Under investigation

Location: 10 miles southeast of Green Valley, Arizona

Containment: 7%

Fuels: Tall grass, riparian woodland, mesquite/oak brush, oak woodland, and pinyon-juniper

Total personnel: Approximately 363

                                                        

The Sawmill Fire continues to burn on lands managed by the Coronado National Forest, Bureau of Land Management and the Arizona Department of Forestry and Fire Management. A Type I Incident Management Team will assume command on Thursday, April 27 in response to the increasing complexity of the fire. Contact information will be announced through a subsequent news release.

Winds moderated overnight, allowing firefighters to meet objectives for structure protection in the communities of Hilton Ranch and Mescal J-6. Additional fire growth was observed on the eastern flank. Crews continue to prioritize protection for Rain Valley, Empire Ranch, Hilton Ranch, and Mescal J-6. These communities remain under pre-evacuation notice. Evacuations centers are located at the Santa Cruz County Fairgrounds (3142 Highway 83, Sonoita, AZ) and the Southeastern Regional Park Shooting Range (11296 S. Harrison Rd. Tucson, AZ). They also serve as evacuation centers for livestock and pets.

Today’s weather forecast indicates diminished winds with gusts of approximately 25 miles per hour, providing an opportunity for utilization of additional aerial resources. Suppression efforts are also being directed toward securing the southwestern flank of the fire.

The estimated fire size is 20,000 acres. This figure is based on a visual estimate and will likely change due to incident mapping and fire growth. Both firefighters and the public should practice heightened awareness for possible hazards around the fire area, such as downed powerlines, and treat downed wires as energized, stay clear of the area, and contact local service providers.

Evacuations orders have been lifted for the communities of Greaterville and Singing Valley. Residents from them will be allowed through the Arizona Highway 83 closure for the sole purpose of accessing their homes. Arizona Highway 83 remains closed to public traffic.

Temporary closures remain in effect for National Forest Service Road (NFSR) 62 at the entrance to Box Canyon, easterly to the junction with NFSR 229, continuing southwesterly to NFSR 165 and on to the Melendrez Pass Communication Site in the Santa Rita Mountains. Temporary closures remain in place for Cave Creek, Sawmill, and Florida Canyon trails, along with the Arizona National Scenic Trail from NFSR 4110 northward to NFSR 4072.

The media are invited to attend a briefing at the Santa Cruz County Fairgrounds at 4:00 p.m. today. For more information on the Sawmill Fire, please contact Sawmill Fire Information at (505) 750-4636. Official incident information will be posted online at the Sawmill Fire InciWeb page (http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/5164/) and the Coronado National Forest Facebook page (www.facebook.com/CoronadoNF). 

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