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Rio Fire contained; Tonto’s doubles


FOUNTAIN HILLS – With a huge urban desert brush fire north of here contained, firefighters turned their attention today to a blaze in the Tonto National Forest that doubled in size in a day.

The 23,365-acre Rio Fire that was started by lightning Friday evening was contained last night, but Jim Payne, a spokesman for the central Arizona fire management center, said the danger wasn’t over so long as there still were flames and the likelihood of thunderstorms and strong winds.

About 450 firefighters were continuing mop-up action today. Meanwhile, officials said McDowell Mountain Regional Park will remain closed indefinitely. Flames roasted about 14,000 acres of the park – about two-thirds of its land.

Habitat experts said the fire devastated the largely pristine desert land that included about a fourth of a planned 16,468-acre preserve.

Meanwhile, two blazes that began Friday in the Tonto National Forest – the Horseshoe and Basin fires – burned together into one that covered 13,000 acres by late yesterday about 20 miles northeast of Scottsdale and seven miles southeast of Horseshoe Lake.

It remained uncontained yesterday.

Payne said some of the resources freed by containing the Rio Fire would be working on the Basin Fire today but that because of the steep, rugged terrain, direct attack would be limited.

A fire of undetermined origin erupted yesterday afternoon 10 miles southeast of Florence in desert brush and quickly spread over 600 acres.

The Reed Fire threatened a mobile home park and a housing development for a time, but neither were evacuated, said Dave Killebrew of the Tonto National Forest.

Another fire that erupted yesterday afternoon in desert grasslands of the Tonto National Forest quickly burned 175 acres. The Salt Fire was located about eight miles north of Miami adjacent to Arizona Route 88. Cause was undetermined, and there was no estimate as to when it might be contained, Payne said.

A fire in the mining town of Bagdad, about 50 miles west of Prescott and five miles north of Bartlett Lake, burned down three homes and damaged two others but was contained yesterday at 150 acres.

Four fires near Kingman were fully contained last night after burning for three days.

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