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9:03 PM Thu, Dec. 13th

Firefighters close in on blaze near Sedona

Firefighters expected to get a handle by late yesterday on a wildfire burning in the Secret Mountain Wilderness Area about 10 miles northwest of Sedona.

The Coconino National Forest plan does not allow firefighters to manage wildfires in any of the forest's wilderness areas because contained fire is beneficial in reducing hazardous fuels that could otherwise lead to an uncontrolled wildfire, explained Brienne Magee, public information officer.

So the Forest Service is actively trying to suppress the fire, and on Wednesday officials hoped to contain it by the end of the day.

As of the agency's latest press release, firefighters didn't get any help from rain that fell about 20 miles away in Flagstaff Wednesday morning.

Lightning ignited the fire, which someone reported last Friday.

It is burning in rough terrain thick with young and dead vegetation leftover from the Lost Complex fire that burned 1,800 acres in 1994, Magee said.

The fire behavior is at the low to moderate level, she said. No closures are in place, but smoke might be visible from the Verde Valley.