Lightning's the culprit
Smoke from several lightning-caused fires was visible Sunday to residents in the Verde Valley and motorists on Interstate 17.
Winds had pushed the smoke into the tri-city area by Sunday evening.
Prescott National Forest Public Affairs Officer Debbie Maneely said both the Butte Fire and the Arnold Fire, started at about 6:28 p.m. Saturday.
Maneely said Sunday evening that the two fires had merged, and burned more than 3,500 acres. She said a Type II team would take control of the fire at 6 a.m. Monday morning.
The Butte Fire began north of Dugas Road and east of Forest Road 68D in Yellow Jacket Mesa.
The U.S. Forest Service began its attack of the Butte Fire with one Type I crew, one Type II crew, four engines and one fuels crew.
The Arnold Fire was burning two miles east and southeast of Bald Mountain, in the Verde Ranger District. Firefighters began attacking the Arnold Fire from the air.
The fires were burning northeast of Arcosanti.
The Ash Fire is burning further north, about one-fourth of a mile off I-17. Maneely said it had burned five acres by 3 p.m. on Sunday, and continued to burn toward the interstate.
She noted that the Arizona Department of Public Safety closed the interstate for a short time Sunday afternoon.
Forest Service fire crews, along with firefighters from Prescott Fire Department, kept two lightning-caused fires on Mingus Mountain under control Sunday afternoon.
Maneely said the Goat Fire burned about one-quarter of an acre and the Hickey Fire burned about three-quarters of an acre. The fires were in the Verde Fire District area on the east side of Mingus Mountain.
"We were able to get an engine on the Hickey Fire and got a line around the Goat Fire. The fire lines are secure, but the fires were throwing up a lot of smoke," Maneely said.
The Boulder Fire started at about 7:22 p.m. Friday, west of Highway 169 and I-17. The fire burned about four acres and the Mayer Fire District contained it at about 9 p.m.
The Brush Fire burned about 35 acres west of Bald Mountain at about 7:30 p.m. Friday evening.
Maneely said the Prescott National Forest received reports of smoke in the Groom Creek area Sunday afternoon, however, the community was having a barbecue that was creating a lot of smoke.
In the southwest corner of the county, lightning started about 10 fires Sunday, mainly on state land. The state Land Department had not determined a lot about these fires at press time, but officials believed the largest was about five miles from Congress and approximately 800 acres in size. Land Department officials speculated that structures in this area could be at risk but had no details about their
exact locations Sunday
Stages I fire restrictions are still in effect on the Prescott National Forest. The fire danger remains extreme.
For more information on fire restrictions and fire prevention, visit the Web site at www.azfireinfo.com.