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Wed, Feb. 20
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Several wildfires continue to burn throughout Arizona

LIZARD FIRE

FLAGSTAFF — A 3,400-acre fire east of Flagstaff was 50 percent contained Wednesday with full containment likely by Friday night.

"The fire is doing exactly what we expected it to," fire information officer Jason Kirchner said Wednesday.

Six engines and about 100 firefighters performed backburning operations fire to battle the blaze.

Fire crews tried to protect the archaeological sites in the area by conducting burnout operations, instead of using bulldozers.

Lightning started the Lizard fire more than a week ago, but the blaze didn't flare up until the weekend.

On Tuesday, the blaze caused heavy smoke to fall over Flagstaff. It remained hazy over the city on Wednesday.

PICTURE FIRE

PUNKIN CENTER — A fire burning north of Roosevelt Lake had grown to 1,000 acres in a remote area of the Tonto National Forest on Wednesday.

The blaze had been at just 15 acres on Tuesday, said fire information officer Dave Killebrew. "It grew pretty dramatically," he said.

The fire, 10 miles north of Roosevelt Lake, is probably human-caused, but it remains under investigation.

About 65 firefighters were building lines on the blaze.

The fire was not threatening any structures.

MORMON FIRE

FLAGSTAFF — The 2,600-acre Mormon fire continued to burn within the perimeter fire officials set. They were allowing the lightning-sparked fire to burn as long as it stayed within those lines, fire information officer Connie Birkland said Wednesday.

The fire has headed into lighter fuels and is likelyto eventually burn itself out, she said.

POWELL FIRE

GRAND CANYON — Officials monitored but were not fighting a lightning-caused fire that burned about 310 acres on north rim of the Grand Canyon National Park, officials said.

The Powell fire, which began Sunday, burned primarily at the northeast end of the Powell Plateau, in an area somewhat isolated from and about 15 miles northwest of the developed North Rim of the Grand Canyon proper.

The fire was burning as part of a strategy of letting naturally ignited wildland fires accomplish certain objectives for natural resources.

Despite the fire, the North Rim remains open to visitors, but the North Bass and Powell Plateau trails along with Swamp Ridge Road are closed temporarily, park spokeswoman Maureen Oltrogge said.

The fire is likely to last for several weeks, and with anticipated daily growth of 50 to 200 acres, it could mushroom into several thousand acres, said Craig Letz, the park's fire use manager.

The Powell Plateau encompasses about 5,000 acres, but Letz said it was too early to say whether the fire will burn most of the plateau.

"If the monsoon season comes in July, that will diminish the fire behavior and limit its spread," he said.

Crews wrapped a historic cabin with fire shelter material in an effort to protect it from the blaze.

PICACHO RESERVOIR FIRE

COOLIDGE — An 850-acre fire north of Picacho was 90 percent contained Wednesday.

Officials decided to let the blaze burn itself out as long as it stayed within the Picacho Reservoir area, said Cliff Pearlberg of the Arizona State Land Department.

The human-caused blaze started on Saturday and was charring grasses, mesquite trees and small brush.

Full containment of the blaze was likely by late Friday, said Pearlberg.

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