Skip to main contentSkip to main content
You have permission to edit this article.
alert top story

Hot, dry forecast offers little relief as wildfires rage in Arizona

  • Updated
  • 0
Wildfire Weather

The Telegraph Fire burns overnight near Superior in this 2021 file photo.

A half-dozen wildfires were burning close to 140,000 acres across Arizona and growing, as heat, wind and drought conditions complicated firefighting efforts, officials said.

The largest of the blazes, the Telegraph Fire near Superior, grew by 11,000 acres between Monday and Tuesday morning to more than 71,000 acres, and led to additional evacuation orders in the region. More than 1,400 firefighters were fighting it and the 66,000-acre Mescal Fire near San Carlos by Tuesday afternoon.

Weather officials said little relief is in sight, with forecasts of heat, continued drought and winds likely to bring “erratic” fire behavior that threatens firefighters’ health and makes it more difficult to bring the situations under control.

“The heat dries out the surrounding trees, brush and grass, making areas more susceptible to burn and catching on fire,” said Aaron Hardin, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Tucson. “And the hotter it gets the more susceptible firefighters are to heat-related illness.”

He said the forecast calls for nearly a 10-degree increase in temperature around Globe and Tucson through this weekend.

The Telegraph and Mescal fires are the largest of six that have been burning across the state in recent days. Three of them – the Boggy Creek and McDonald Tank fires in Apache County and the Sycamore Canyon Fire in Pima County – are at least 50% contained.

The Slate Fire near Flagstaff, which was at zero containment, had 130 firefighters battling it Tuesday.

Tiffany Davila, public affairs officer with the Arizona Department of Forestry and Fire Management, said the state saw an uptick in wildfire activity in May and that activity is likely to continue through July, until “the heart of monsoon season.”

In the meantime, Davila said, it’s important for people to “be proactive and create defensible space around their property.” That includes removing dead vegetation from their yards, rooftops and gutters, as well as any flammable material outside the house such as firewood and patio furniture, to create a buffer between people’s homes and potential wildfires.

Davila also encouraged residents in fire-prone areas to be prepared with evacuation plans and their belongings.

“People need to be prepared ahead of time so they safely evacuate,” Davila said.

The Gila County Division of Health and Emergency Management said it had opened four shelters for people displaced by the Mescal and Telegraph fires. In addition to shelters at the county fairgrounds and High Desert Middle School in Globe, Skyline High School in Mesa and the Apache Gold Casino in San Carlos, there is also a large-animal shelter at the Birch Stockyard in Globe.

Evacuations were already in place for Pinal and Gila county residents near Top-Of-The-World, Oak Flat Campground and Miami when the growth of the Telegraph Fire prompted evacuations in Kellner Canyon and Ice House Canyon in Globe, said Dean McAllister, public information officer for the Telegraph Fire.

McAllister said the southwest corner of the Telegraph Fire is burning toward the site of the 2017 Pinal Canyon Fire, which he hopes will slow the spread of the fire and allow firefighters to “get a handle on it.”

McAllister said officials’ main concerns now are protecting highways and other infrastructure as the blaze moves east, and protecting firefighters who are battling oppressive weather as well as the blaze.

“We’re emphasizing hydration and for folks to cycle out and rest when they can, but it’s sort of the nature of the work when you work in the Southwest,” McAllister said.


Be the first to know

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

Related to this story

Most Popular

Authorities say a man has been arrested for allegedly stealing five vehicles, a trailer and a forklift in Arizona and Arkansas. Arizona Department of Public Safety officials say 37-year-old Brandon A. Jones has been booked into the Maricopa County Jail on suspicion of five counts of theft of means of transportation and one count of theft of controlled property after a months-long investigation. DPS officials say two homes were searched after task force detectives saw Jones allegedly driving and transporting the stolen vehicles and trailer between properties in south Phoenix. They say a pickup truck and two SUVs reported stolen in Arkansas were recovered along with a flatbed and forklift reported stolen in Phoenix and two SUVs reported stolen in the Phoenix suburb of Mesa.

A Phoenix man was sentenced to 24 years in prison for his convictions for manslaughter in the 2013 killing of a Maricopa County jail officer and for aggravated assault in the shooting of someone else two days later at a party. Authorities say Leonard Moreno, then 15 years old, fatally shot Detention Officer Jorge Vargas as the officer was in his driveway. Moreno has already spent nearly nine years in jail. Vargas’ family members said they feel enduring pain from the death and criticized the lenient term of Moreno’s plea agreement. Prosecutors said the deal was offered because of issues with both the facts of the case and the availability of witnesses.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer says Democrats have made changes in their giant economic bill that include paring part of their proposed minimum tax on huge corporations. Schumer described some of the revisions Friday as Democrats lined up the votes needed to deliver a campaign-season victory to President Joe Biden on his domestic agenda. Schumer also said bargainers dropped a proposed tax boost on hedge fund executives after pivotal centrist Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona said she would otherwise vote “no.” Schumer said the package would instead levy new taxes on companies that buy back their own stock.

Sen. Joe Manchin sealed the deal reviving President Joe Biden’s big economic, health care and climate bill. But it was another Democratic senator, Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, who quietly shaped the final product. Democrats pushed ahead Friday on the estimated $730 billion package that in many ways reflects Sinema’s priorities. On taxes, health care and climate change, Sinema has pushed her priorities into the bill. In the 50-50 Senate, every vote matters. She is putting hers to uses that infuriate some, wow others and point to her emergence as a powerful political figure.

The Pentagon has rejected a request from the District of Columbia seeking National Guard assistance for the thousands of migrants being bused to the city from two southern states. U.S. defense officials say that Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin declined to provide Guard personnel and the use of the D.C. Armory to assist with the reception of migrants into the city. One official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss a decision not yet made public, says that the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s food and shelter program has provided funding for the problem, and has indicated those funds are sufficient. Mayor Muriel Bowser says the city may send an amended request.

The Department of Homeland Security says it has ended a Trump-era policy requiring asylum-seekers to wait in Mexico for hearings in U.S. immigration court. The announcement Monday came hours after a judge lifted an order in effect since December that it be reinstated. The timing had been in doubt since the Supreme Court ruled on June 30 that the Biden administration could end the “Remain in Mexico” policy. Homeland Security officials were largely silent, saying they had to wait for the court to certify the ruling and for a Trump-appointed judge to then lift his injunction.

Get up-to-the-minute news sent straight to your device.


News Alerts

Breaking News

Breaking News (FlagLive!)