Contributed Photo: The Telegraph Fire burns along U.S. Highway 60.
GILA AND PINAL COUNTIES – As of Monday evening flights, the Mescal Fire was listed at 66,862 acres with 23 percent containment. The fire began June 1 roughly 12 miles southeast of Globe.
Successful containment lines were built along U.S. Highway 70 and residents in the San Carlos High School area, Coyote Flats, and Soda Canyon were allowed to return to their homes Tuesday morning.
According to Team 5 Operations Section Chief Marcus Cornwell, firefighters also have taken the upper hand along the fire’s western front near the El Capitan Mountains to halt the fire’s progression and the northern perimeter should be locked in today as well. The eastern and southern perimeters are mostly in a monitor state as the dry desert fuels are being quickly consumed and then cooling off rapidly. The area around the fire still remains in a no-fly zone as aerial suppression activities continue.
“So, we’ll have this whole northern perimeter locked in and we lack this last three miles to complete, hopefully, today,” Corwell said. “If for any reason, they’re not able to complete it, night division should be able to finish that up, essentially closing our back door and locking this into place.”
U.S. Highway 70 remains closed to heavy traffic (semis) as of Tuesday, with light traffic still being allowed through on a detour around the fire.
The Telegraph Fire was listed at 71,756 acres with 0 percent containment as of Tuesday morning. However, a successful operation Monday along the west side of the fire along the U.S. Highway 60 corridor area has spared the town of Superior. That suppression activity included various aerial operations, according to Operations Section Chief Todd Abel.
“That will keep fire out of Superior and all the values along the (Highway) 60 corridor,” Abel said.
Night resources were also busy protecting the Top-of-the-World area, however, most aerial and ground resources are now concentrated in the Miami/Globe area and are prepping along homes just outside of that area, including dozer operations and hand-lines, as well as firing operations to take the fuels away before the main fire approaches.
According to one Globe resident, ash is “falling like snow” throughout the city as residents cope with the lack of gasoline at local stations, delayed trash pickup, and most stores being closed.
Smoke is also an issue in the area, and N-95 masks are being provided free of charge for those who are smoke sensitive. Masks can be picked up at the Globe or Miami police departments, High Desert Middle School, and the Gila County Health Department.