Here are the 5 worst wildfires in Arizona history
PHOENIX – The Woodbury Fire tearing through a national forest outside of Phoenix is already the sixth-largest wildfire in state history.
By Monday, more than 100,000 acres had burned.
Arizona has had bigger fires; in fact the 10 biggest have all happened since 2002.
Here are the five largest fires in state history:
Editor’s note: The Woodbury Fire surpassed the Willow Fire on June 25.
5. Willow Fire, 2004
This blaze near Payson ate up 119,500 acres in the Mazatal Wilderness in Gila County. Lightning struck the forest on June 24; the ensuing wildfire lasted almost a month and came within 4 miles of the town. No lives or structures were lost, according to Wikipedia.
4. Horseshoe Two Fire, 2011
Part of the Coronado National Forest in the Chiricahua Mountains was set on fire by human hands May 8. Officials said 222,954 acres of scrub, oak pine and desert grassland burned in Cochise County and 23 structures went up.
There were no deaths, even though two firefighters were trapped in a house they had broken into for safety, Wildfire Today wrote.
3. Cave Creek Complex Fire, 2005
A double lightning strike set off a fire that would swallow 243,950 acres spread across Maricopa and Yavapai counties. The fire near Pine burned June 21 until July 7, starting near Butte Peak in Scottsdale and Humboldt Peak in nearby Tonto National Forest.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency helped with funding for the portion in the forest, after the fire threatened 440 homes in Tonto Hills and Camp Creek.
At least 11 structures were ruined.
2. Rodeo-Chediski Fire, 2002
Both fires were intentionally set and combined to destroy 468,638 acres and nearly 500 homes in Gila and Navajo counties. The Rodeo Fire was started June 18, by a firefighter looking for work.
The Chediski Fire began two days after that, when a hiker whose car had run out of gas set a fire to get the attention of a news helicopter pilot on the way to the Rodeo Fire.
In all, 426 structures were lost.
Rodeo fire starter Leonard Gregg was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison in 2004 but was released in 2011, the White Mountain Independent reported.
A study from the U.S. Forest Service said it would take years for ecosystem resources to right themselves.
1. Wallow Fire, 2011
The biggest fire in state history wiped out 538,049 acres in the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest near Alpine. Two campers accidentally started the fire May 29 in Apache County’s White Mountains. The unattended campfire initially consumed vegetation there before high winds accelerated it into Graham, Greenlee and Navajo counties, finally stopping in New Mexico.
The fire destroyed 72 structures and 16 people were injured.
That fire was burning at the same time as the Horseshoe Two.
KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Jim Cross, who has covered the majority of the state’s biggest fires, was flying back from Dallas one night in May that year.
“I could see (the fires) from the plane,” he said. “It looked like the world was on fire.”
The gallery below shows the Woodbury Fire.