Jun 292011

By Teri Walker–

Sparks shooting from the rim of a blown tire on a fifth-wheel trailer ignited the Wash fire Thursday morning, just north of the junction of Highways 277 and 377, about eight miles northeast of Heber.

The first call came in to the Arizona Department of Public Safety (DPS) at 10:50 a.m., and in less than two hours, the fire had grown to 50 to 75 acres in the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests, said Captain Larry Parks, DPS commander for District 3.

Racing through a hilly area covered with Piñon-juniper woodlands and grasses, the fire burned power lines, cutting electricity to residents and businesses in areas of Heber-Overgaard for hours.

DPS and the Arizona Department of Transportation temporarily closed Highway 377.

On Monday, the fire was 95 percent contained at 1,955 acres, and the cost to fight it had reached $1,199,201.

The fire is expected to be fully contained by today (June 29). The incident command team planned to turn the fire management over to the Black Mesa Ranger District for continued containment of the fire, mopping up and rehabilitation of the burned area.

Photo by Teri Walker

Smoke plumes on the horizon, this from the Wash fire outside of Heber-Overgaard, have become a familiar sight in northeastern Arizona this fire season.