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Wildfire closes route between metro Phoenix, White Mountains

(Twitter photo/@azstateforestory)

GLOBE, Ariz. (AP) — A route between metro Phoenix and the White Mountains in eastern Arizona’s high country remained closed Saturday because of a wildfire that for a time burned on both sides the highway.

The Arizona Department of Transportation said a 60-mile (97-kilometer) stretch of US 60 was closed between the outskirts of Globe and the junction with State Route 73 on the Fort Apache Indian Reservation.

Officials said the fire started Friday about 3 miles (5 kilometers) northeast of Globe and as of midday Saturday burned an estimated 2,400 acres (9.7 square kilometers) of grass and brush.

Tankers and ground crews worked Friday to keep the fire from ranches, mines and utilities infrastructure and by Saturday, “the threat to property and infrastructure has greatly decreased,” officials said.

There were spot fires Friday on both sides of the highway “and large aircraft working suppression in the area made travel unsafe at the time,” officials said.

By Saturday, the fire had moved away from the highway but damaged and smoldering guardrails remained a safety issue, officials said.

Officials said the fire was determined to be human-caused and that an investigator was “on scene working to find the ignition source.”

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