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Tonto Basin/Punkin Center placed on pre-evacuation as Bush fire expands

PHOENIX, June 14, 2020 — The Bush Fire on the Tonto National Forest increased in size to 14,371 and remains at 0% containment.  The fire growth is being driven by hot, dry and windy conditions and an excess of grass and brush growth.

Due to the fire’s growth and movement, the Gila County Sheriff’s Office has put the communities of Punkin Center and Tonto Basin into a SET notification.

SET is a pre-evacuation status and residents need to know there is significant danger in the area. Get ready by packing a ‘go bag’ which includes items like, prescriptions, important documents, money, clothing, food, and other essential items.

Two strike teams, which consist of a total of ten engines and two water tenders, are being ordered to provide structure protection to both communities.

The fire is burning into the Four Peaks Wilderness, northeast of State Highway 87. Weather forecasts for the fire area will continue to be hot, dry and windy. Firefighters will continue full suppression tactics. Public and firefighter safety are top priority for suppression strategies on the Bush Fire.

A Type 2 Southwest Incident Management Team, led by Incident Commander Mark Bernal, takes over command of the fire at 6:00am tomorrow.

Resources on the fire include 11 engines, 3 hotshot crews, 2 helicopters, and 1 air attack.  Multiple airtankers are available as needed. Firefighters and air support will continue to focus on building containment lines. The Tonto National Forest is being assisted by Arizona Department of Forestry and Fire Management, Maricopa County Sherriff’s Office, Arizona Department of Transportation, Maricopa County Department of Transportation, Arizona Department of Public Safety, and SRP.

No structures have been damaged. Infrastructure protection for State Highway 87, powerlines, private property, and sensitive recreation and heritage resources continue to be priorities for firefighting efforts.

Smoke will continue to be seen in the east Phoenix metropolitan valley, with heavy smoke impacting the Tonto Basin and Roosevelt Lake areas, along with recreation sites along the lower Salt River.

State Highway 87 is closed from State Highway 188 to the Bush Highway. Sugarloaf, Four Peaks, Lower Sycamore, The Rolls, Pobrecito, Butcher Jones, and Saguaro Del Norte recreation areas are all closed at this time.

Ready, Set, Go is a nationwide program that educates residents about proactive measures to take before an emergency and actions to take follow when communities are threatened. Register for emergency alerts at https://ein.az.gov/ready-set-go.

Remember, wildfires are a No Drone Zone. If You Fly, We Can’t!

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