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Arizona & Phoenix Local News
Tonto Forest Service Fighting Drones and Flames
June 14, 2019
Fire Fighter in Tonto

The Tonto National Forest representatives announced fire spreading from Horseshoe Dam Road on Friday, June 7. Over the weekend, the fire has spread east and northeast toward the Bartlett Lake. According to the officials, the area under the fire now encompasses 7,470 acres. The thick smoke can be seen due to windy weather.

Near the Horseshoe Dam Road turnoff, enthusiastic campers, who were preparing for a fun camping weekend, had an unpleasant surprise. Travelers who were hoping to spend time with family and friends remained stuck at a road closure. The radar of National Weather Service of Phoenix identified the spreading smoke over the Tonto Basin on Friday at noon. Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office immediately began the evacuation of the campgrounds near the Horseshoe Dam and Bartlett Lake due to the concern that the campers and visitors may be in danger.

Forest Fire plane doping sandAccording to the forest service, Arizona has seen over 524 wildfires this year. The increased moisture during the winter months led to vegetation growth during the spring. The plants are now completely dry since Arizona had rather high temperatures in the past few weeks. They also added that human neglection is always present, and the Tonto mountain fire was human-caused.

The onlookers watching the fire burn through the forest could also see the members of fire crew dealing with extreme circumstances. The crew reported extremely high temperatures and dry conditions. The team working on the operation consists of more than 200 members using air tankers, eight fire engines, and helicopters to extinguish the flames. The crew is filling the water from Horseshoe and Bartlett Lakes and have so far succeeded to contain 50% of the fire.

Due to potential danger, hikers and drivers are warned not to go near the area of the fire. Nevertheless, on Saturday, one of the aircrew members spotted a private drone near the wildfires. The crew leaders were concerned that the drone could jeopardize the pilots as well as any humans in need of rescue.

Bartlett Dam Road is closed for the entire weekend until further notice. Families and friends of people who were visiting the two nearby lakes before the fire are still waiting for news. The fire crew added that the flames were human-caused. The investigation to determine the cause of the fires, as well as the perpetrator, is well underway.

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