Firefighters battling the “Bush Fire” on both sides of the Mazatzal Mountains

The fire moved across the iconic Four Peaks and has now burned 114,941 acres

(UPDATED at 8:13 a.m. MDT June 18, 2020)

Bush Fire Vicinity Map
Vicinity map for the Bush Fire, 11:49 p.m. MDT June 17, 2020.

Firefighters on the Bush Fire northeast of Phoenix are fighting fire with fire, removing fuel ahead of the blaze by firing out to keep it from crossing highways and destroying structures.

Wednesday night firing operations were conducted south of Sunflower near Highway 87, near the fire lookout and communication facilities on Mt. Ord (2 miles north of the fire), and along Highway 188 south of Tonto Basin and Punkin Center. Fire is now established along approximately 10 miles of the west side of Highway 188.

For all articles on Wildfire Today about the Bush Fire northeast of Phoenix including the most recent, click here.

About 10 miles north of the fire fire officials are preparing areas around Jake’s Corner near the intersection of Highways 188 and 87 for burning out in order to protect structures.

Bush Fire Map 254 am MDT June 18, 2020
The red line was the perimeter of the Bush Fire detected by a mapping flight at 11:49 p.m. MDT June 17. The yellow line was the perimeter detected by a mapping flight at 11:12 p.m. MDT June 16. The red dots represent heat detected by a satellite at 2:54 a.m. MDT June 18.

A fixed wing mapping flight at 11:49 p.m. Wednesday night determined that the Bush Fire had burned 114,941 acres, an increase of over 25,000 acres in 24 hours.


(UPDATED at 7:21 p.m. MDT June 17, 2020)

Bush Fire map Phoenix
The red line was the perimeter of the Bush Fire detected by a mapping flight at 11:12 p.m. MDT June 16. The yellow line was the perimeter detected by a mapping flight at 12:45 a.m. MDT June 16. The orange and red dots represent heat detected by a satellite on June 17.

The Bush Fire east of Phoenix has been very active on Wednesday, chewing up more vegetation on the north, east, and south sides.

Between the time of the fixed wing mapping flight at 11:46 p.m. MDT June 16 and a satellite overflight at 2:30 p.m. June 17 the northernmost point of the blaze moved about three miles to the north-northeast, roughly parallel to Highway 87. During that same time frame the east side spread down the east side of Four Peaks and reached Highway 188. At 2:30 there was fire along approximately four miles of the highway at the north end of Theodore Roosevelt Lake four miles south of Tonto Basin. It is likely that firefighters helped tie in the fire with the highway by burning out, a tactic intended to remove the fuel ahead of the main fire in order to check its spread, preventing it from crossing the road.

Late Wednesday afternoon several large air tankers and helicopters were working on the south side of the fire west of Apache Lake north of the Salt River. This is most likely an attempt to keep the fire from crossing the river and moving into the Tortilla Flat area along Highway 88. If it does cross the river putting this huge fire out becomes much more complicated.

A Type 2 Incident Management Team has been managing the fire, but Wednesday afternoon the Southwest Coordination Center announced that a higher level team, a Type 1 Team, has been ordered with Alan Sinclair as Incident Commander. It has been unusual to have the lesser qualified team on this very large fire for this long as it approaches megafire status, 100,000 acres. Typically in a situation like this the incoming team will not assume command until Thursday or possibly even Friday, depending on how quickly they assemble (except those working remotely) and transition with the existing team members.


(Originally published at 10:07 a.m. MDT June 17, 2020)

Map of the Bush Fire
3-D map of the Bush Fire at 3 a.m. MDT June 17, 2020 (the red line and red areas). The yellow line was the perimeter about 24 hour before. Data from USFS mapping flight and NASA satellites.

The “Bush Fire” east of Phoenix was very active again Tuesday and Tuesday night, spreading to the south, north, and east, moving across the iconic Four Peaks.

The fire spread aggressively north on the east side of Highway 87 to Boulder Pass coming to within two miles of the community of Sunflower.

For all articles on Wildfire Today about the Bush Fire northeast of Phoenix including the most recent, click here.

After a fixed wing aircraft mapping flight at 11:12 p.m. MDT June 16, a satellite overflight at 3 a.m. MDT June 17 revealed that the fire continued to move to the north and east. During that four-hour period satellite data showed that it spread two miles downhill almost reaching Highway 188 at the north end of Theodore Roosevelt Lake.

Map of the Bush Fire
Map of the Bush Fire at 3 a.m. MDT June 17, 2020 (red line and red area). The yellow line was the perimeter about 24 hour before. Data from USFS mapping flight and NASA satellites.

A Type 2 Incident Management team lead by Incident Commander Mark Bernal is managing the fire which was mapped Tuesday night at 89,058 acres.

Resources assigned to the fire according to the National Situation Report include 14 hand crews, 26 engines, and no helicopters for a total of 541 personnel.

There are no reports of structures being destroyed. Sections of Highways 87, 88, and 188 are closed due to the fire.

Information about evacuations that are in effect can be found at the official Facebook page for the fire.

The weather forecast for the fire area on Wednesday predicts 99 degrees, 8 percent relative humidity, and winds out of the south switching to the southwest in the afternoon at 13 mph gusting to 20 mph.

Bush fire size Arizona

 

Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, he continues to learn, and strives to be a Student of Fire. Google+

One thought on “Firefighters battling the “Bush Fire” on both sides of the Mazatzal Mountains”

  1. Good job Bill Gabbert. Appreciate the updated fire maps and progress summaries. Please keep up the good work.

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