Winds continue to present challenges on the Sawmill Fire

April 25, 2017 - 10:41 am

Strong and gusty winds continue to present challenges on the Sawmill Fire, burning on lands under the jurisdiction of the Coronado National Forest, Bureau of Land Management and the Arizona Department of Forestry and Fire Management. Fire size is estimated at between 17,000 and 20,000 acres. This figure is based on a visual estimate and will likely change due to incident mapping and/or fire growth.

The fire was active yesterday and last night, and has crossed Arizona Highway 83 in multiple locations. Pre-evacuations and evacuations have occurred in several communities, and are currently underway at Hilton Ranch and the general vicinity.

The strategy for the incident is full suppression. Resources assigned include six hand crews, four of which are from the Arizona Department of Forestry and Fire management; five hotshot crews (Aravaipa, Blue Ridge, Globe, Payson, Prescott); 31 fire engines; five water tenders (tanker trucks); one air attack platform; two air tankers; three helicopters; and miscellaneous overhead for a count of approximately 280 people. Later today, a Type II Incident Management Team will assume management of the fire. Contact information will be announced through a news release.

Gusty winds and broken topography have contributed to growth of the fire, burning in tall grass, riparian woodland, mesquite/oak brush, oak woodland, and pinyon-juniper fuel types. Values at risk include homes, ranches and outbuildings, communications facilities, powerlines, and the Arizona National Scenic Trail.

The Coronado National Forest, Nogales Ranger District, has temporarily closed 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.

On the Arizona National Scenic Trail, the closure includes the segment from NFSR 4110 northward to NFSR 4072. Also included are Cave Creek, Sawmill, and Florida Canyon trails.

The temporary closure is in place to provide for public safety and to limit traffic while fire suppression activities are underway on the Sawmill Fire. The roads are expected to reopen May 8, 2017, but may open at an earlier date, depending on the success of firefighting efforts.

For more information on the road closure, please contact the Nogales Ranger District located at 303 Old Tucson Rd, Nogales, Arizona.  The office can be reached by phone by calling (520) 281-2296. Office hours are 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

For more information on the Sawmill Fire, please contact Fire Information Officer John Cambra at (480) 826-7005.