With weak monsoon, Arizona wildfires are unusually active for August

Aug 21, 2020, 11:05 AM | Updated: 2:54 pm
Salt Fire...
Salt Fire (InciWeb Photo)
(InciWeb Photo)

PHOENIX – Despite Thursday night’s storms, an impotent monsoon season has left Arizona susceptible to wildfires that continue to burn across the state.

It’s rare to see significant wildfire activity after July, because seasonal rainfall usually douses the dry vegetation that fuels blazes.

Another unusual sight is fire restrictions being activated on a variety of public land in August.

Here’s a look at the notable ongoing fire activity and its impact, as reported by authorities:

Salt Fire

The Salt Fire on Tonto National Forest land near Roosevelt Lake had burned more than 21,000 acres with 0% containment, as of Friday morning.

The fire crossed SR 188 overnight and was moving toward Murphy Ranch Mountain.

No homes have been lost to the lightning-caused blaze, but evacuation orders have been issued for the area along the State Route 188 corridor near the SR 288 junction.

SR 188 is closed in both directions between mileposts 223 and 232, and 288 is closed between mileposts 258 and 262.

The Red Cross has opened an evacuation center at the Lee Kornegay School in Miami.

Firefighters are working to protect mining operations and power transmission lines in the area, and communities near Wheatfields and Roosevelt.

Gin Fire and Griffin Fire

The Gin Fire had consumed 3,900 acres in the Apache Mountains, about 5 miles northeast of Globe, as of Friday morning. The Griffin Fire is about 1.5 miles north of the Gin Fire and has consumed 2,500 acres.

Both blazes, which were sparked by lightning, were 0% contained.

The Griffin crossed U.S. 60 on Thursday and moved onto the San Carlos Apache Reservation. The highway north of Globe is closed in both directions between State Route 73 and Vuksanovich Drive.

McDowell Fire

Air tankers, helicopters and hotshot crews were ordered Friday to battle the 200-acre McDowell Fire about 3 miles northwest of Fort McDowell and 3 miles north of Fountain Hills.

The biggest concern is for homes in north Scottsdale and Fountain Hills, along with major communication sites and the McDowell Sonoran Preserve.

The Arizona Department of Forestry and Fire Management said the blaze is in remote area that’s difficult for firefighters to access.

Clouds and higher humidity are helping for now, but conditions could increase the fire risk when the heat comes up.

Constellation Fire

The Constellation Fire about 9 miles northeast of Wickenburg grew to about 8,000 acres after storm cells merged Thursday night to create outflow winds but no moisture.

Firefighters are working to protect seven structures within 2 miles of the fire.

Two ranches in the area were asked to evacuate.

KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Jim Cross contributed to this report.

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With weak monsoon, Arizona wildfires are unusually active for August