Ariz. fire contained, but closely watched

July 8, 2002 at 12:10 PM
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SHOW LOW, Ariz., July 8 (UPI) -- Firefighters kept a watchful eye out for hotspots Monday in what was left of the 468,638-acre wildfire that burned more than 400 homes and other structures in eastern Arizona.

The Rodeo-Chediski blaze was 100 percent contained late Sunday after threatening the town of Show Low last month and burning homes in Heber and Overgaard.

Some firefighters were being sent home for rest after working 14 consecutive days and others were being assigned to other fires around the country, Fire Information Officer Ed Brown said.

Nearly 1,000 firefighters remained on the fire Monday to maintain containment lines and watch for hotspots. It may be several weeks before the fire dies out within the perimeter.

"These small fires are well inside the containment lines and we are still mopping up those," said Brown. "We may see those for the next couple of weeks."

At one time nearly 33,000 people were evacuated from towns in the area but nearly all of them have returned to their homes. More than 200 lost their homes in the fire but thousands more were saved.

A part-time firefighter was charged with setting the Rodeo-Chediski fire, the largest wildfire in Arizona history. Leonard Gregg, 29, is being held in jail until his trial on the federal charges.

Five other wildfires were contained Sunday in Idaho, Minnesota, South Dakota, Texas and Wyoming, according to the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, Idaho. Twenty-three wildfires were burning in 10 states on Sunday.

The Missionary Ridge Fire near Durango in southwest Colorado is 87 percent contained at 73,145 acres, one of the largest still burning in the nation. About 56 homes and 26 outbuildings have been lost to the blaze.

The Rattle Complex fire 20 miles northeast of Green River, Utah is 30 percent contained at 74,500 acres. The fire was torching through the tops of trees Sunday and threatening several ranches.

Topics: Ed Brown
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