It is wildfire season in Arizona. The state has received relatively little rainfall so far this year and the temperatures are already topping 100 degrees with excessive heat warnings in effect for the desert regions this week. With the heat comes wind and all of this makes it difficult for the crews working on the various Arizona wildfires.
This morning I decided to drive up the Beeline Highway to see one of the larger fires currently burning, the Sunflower Fire. About an hour’s drive northeast of the Phoenix metropolitan area, the Sunflower Fire is burning in difficult terrain between Payson and Sunflower.
According to the InciWeb Incident Information System, the Sunflower Fire started mid-morning on Saturday, May 12 and it has already reached 3,100 acres. There is no containment on the fire with no expected containment date being forecast.
I first stopped off on a dirt road about 15 miles from the fire and watched the smoke quickly turn from a fluffy white color to dark black and amber colors. I captured these colors in the image above. You could see a helicopter traversing the fire but I wasn’t able to see any water drops; I believe that was happening outside of my view.
After spending some time at my distant vantage point, I drove further up the Beeline Highway to Mt. Ord Road. Deputies from the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office had blocked off the road to the original Beeline Highway and I could see why – the fire was burning just a few short miles down the road. The deputy directed me across the highway to Mt. Ord Road, where members of the media were able to safely park.
From my Mt. Ord location I was able to watch the helicopter make several more trips, again going outside of my viewpoint to drop buckets of water. In the 30 minutes that I was there I watched the flames lap at the forest service road in the distance and move across the beautiful red-colored mountains of the area.
If you’d like to see more photos of the Sunflower Fire, I will have additional images uploaded to my Flickr page this evening.
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