Forces begin to demobilize from Woodbury Fire as growth stagnates; Gap Fire in the Gila Mountains also waning

Woodbury Fire now fifth largest in state history

By Jon Johnson

SUPERSTITION MOUNTAINS WILDERNESS – While the Woodbury Fire is now the fifth largest in state history at 123,404 acres as of Thursday, fire activity has slowed and with 53 percent containment demobilization of forces has begun. The fire grew only about 141 acres overnight.  

As the lowered workforce continues suppression work, the Southwest Area Type 1 Incident Management Team 2 is transitioning its duties to the Arizona Central West Zone Type 3 Incident Management Team. The Type 3 team is scheduled to assume command of the fire Friday at 6 a.m. 

State Route 88 remains closed from Tortilla Flat to the State Route 188 Junction while crews continue to monitor the fire line.

The Woodbury Fire began June 8 around 1:30 p.m. roughly five miles northwest of Superior. After listing it as human-caused for the past three weeks, the designation has now changed to unknown.   

Video Still By 3TV/CBS5: Smoke from the Woodbury Fire is still a concern but as it dwindles thoughts are now turned to the possibility of flooding risks during monsoon season.

Gap Fire

The Gap Fire which started shortly after noon, Tuesday, is burning in the Gila Mountains northeast of Bylas. The last reported size of the fire was about 16,721 acres early Thursday morning with about 50 percent containment.

According to the fire’s PIO, Evelyn Mogan, firefighters were continuing to shore up their fire lines but were more in a monitoring stage as of Thursday with hopes that it would be “all buttoned up by the end of the day” depending on how bad the wind got.

Nearly 100 firefighters were quickly sent to fight the Gap Fire, along with a mighty air suppression fleet of two air tankers, four SEAT airplanes, and a T1 helicopter. Most of those resources were still in the area from being used in the Bylas Fire from earlier in the month. As of Thursday, about 70 remained on scene.

Morgan stressed that the area is extremely dry and that any spark can quickly grow to a large wildfire in a short time until the monsoon season hits.

“That fire grew so quickly,” Morgan said. “It went from zero and in about four-and-a-half to five hours it went to about 13,000 acres.”