SR 87 reopens, town still evacuated as crews battle Diamond Fire in Tonto National Forest

Jul 26, 2023, 5:45 AM | Updated: Jul 27, 2023, 6:34 am

PHOENIX — State Route 87 reopened in both directions Wednesday morning following a temporary closure due to the Diamond Fire northeast of Phoenix, transportation officials said.

The highway closed around 6 p.m. Tuesday to allow Tonto National Forest and Arizona State Forestry and Fire Management personnel to performing control operations near the fire

Southbound SR 87 was reduced to one lane at milepost 218, according to the Arizona Department of Transportation Wednesday morning.

Evacuation orders issued

Authorities issued evacuation orders for a northeast Maricopa County community Sunday night as firefighters continued to battle the latest Diamond Fire burning in Tonto National Forest.

The Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office and the Office of Emergency Management issued an evacuation order around 5:15 p.m. Sunday, indicating imminent danger, for the rural community of Sunflower, which is about 58 miles northeast of Phoenix. The “GO” order was expanded to the Cross F and Diamond Ranch areas on Wednesday afternoon as the fire spread.

As of Thursday morning, the Diamond Fire had consumed more than 1,400 acres, with 0% containment.

Mesa Ranger District fire personnel responded to the blaze, which could be seen from State Route 87, around 7 p.m. Saturday. Responding airtankers retreated back to ground due to thunderstorms in the area, which had outflows that aided in the initial growth of the wildfire.

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SR 87 reopens, town still evacuated as crews battle Diamond Fire in Tonto National Forest