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Containment of southern Arizona wildfire at 20 percent

28 April 2017

The fire is just under 7 percent contained but fire managers said Wednesday that calmer winds had made both ground and aerial efforts more effective.

However, forecasts call for winds to pick up again by Friday and Cochise County officials plan to keep several hundred homes in desert areas north and south of Interstate 10 west of Benson under pre-evacuation notices into the weekend, sheriff's spokeswoman Carol Capas.

The forest's Facebook page included an early afternoon posting that said, "Recent mapping now shows total fire size at 40,350 acres". Evacuation orders were lifted for Greaterville and Singing Valley. Officials confirm the fire was started by a human but haven't yet released how it sparked up. Residents of those communities were allowed to access their homes using Highway 83, which remained closed to the public.

The nuns, who are cloistered and mostly silent, found room at a local bed and breakfast.

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The fire has been elevated to Type I status because of its complexity, according to the Southwest Incident Management Team. Despite Arizona recording one of its best winter in years in terms of rain and snowfall, experts estimate the southern two-thirds of the state will experience higher-than-usual fire danger by the summer.

The Type 3 team that was managing the fire burning in and around the Santa Rita Mountains southeast of Tucson was replaced late Tuesday by a high-level Type 2 team, and the Type 2 itself is going to be replaced by a Type 1 team. Service roads on the Arizona National Scenic Trail include roads 4110 to 4072, said Schewel.

"As we were evacuating, the fire jumped the road right as my family was crossing", Green Valley Fire District Chief Chuck Wunder told KGUN. The blaze was about 12 miles from the community of J-6 Ranch, she said. Federal officials will take charge Monday morning now that the fire has moved into the "heavy timber and pretty treacherous terrain" of Madera Canyon, a part of the Coronado National Forest. As of Tuesday evening, no structures have burned, but homes, ranches and outbuildings, communications facilities and power lines remained at risk, according to authorities.

These conditions created the ideal combination for a fire, a Green Valley Fire Department spokesperson told KGUN-TV, and all it needed was a small spark.

Containment of southern Arizona wildfire at 20 percent