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Bighorn Fire spreads near Tucson, grows past 118,000 acres

(InciWeb Photo)

PHOENIX – The Bighorn Fire burning near Tucson was close to overtaking the No. 7 spot Thursday for largest wildfire in Arizona history.

The fire has claimed 118,710 acres in the Catalina Mountains and was 58% contained.

Early Wednesday, the Bighorn Fire had burned 118,370 acres and was 54% contained.

The Willow Fire, seventh-largest in state history, burned about 119,500 acres southwest of Payson in 2004.

The Pima County Sheriff’s Department issued evacuation orders Tuesday for the area around Redington Road.

No homes have been lost in the second-largest fire burning in the United States. The blaze is the eighth-largest in Arizona history.

About 1,000 firefighters and support crew are working the fire in the Coronado National Forest with the help of dozens of engines, several bulldozers and a fleet of helicopters.

Fire officials reported that the blaze was driven by strong winds Monday, with top wind speeds reaching 54 mph.

A spot fire forced crews to build a line around radio towers on Mount Lemmon while other crews worked to protect structures in the Summerhaven area.

Along the fire’s eastern edge, gusty winds forced helicopters to be grounded Monday afternoon.

The lightning-sparked fire started June 5 in the Pusch Ridge Wilderness.

KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Jim Cross and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

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