Rim fire

Robert L. Ehrhardt took this picutre of the fire below the Rim March 30.

PAYSON — Wildfire fighters are working a human-caused fire about one mile north of Mead’s Ranch and about 13 miles northeast of Payson that was likely caused by illegal fireworks.

The Knoll fire, grew to nearly 70 acres before being contained by Monday, officials reported.

Carrie Templin, Phoenix media contact for the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests, said the fire started Friday, March 30, adding that 45 firefighters were working it along with an air tanker and a helicopter. By Sunday, it was reported that up to 140 firefighters joined to contain the fire by Monday. The fire burned mostly brush, juniper and ponderosa pine.

“This new fire comes at the end of Wildfire Awareness Week and demonstrates why the wildfire community continues to stress that Arizona is in a drought and it only takes one spark to start a wildfire,” she said.

About 80 percent of the state is currently in severe drought. That includes the Payson area and most, if not all, of Navajo and Apache counties.

The use of fireworks within U.S. Forest Service lands is illegal in Arizona and New Mexico.

The state is about 55 inches short of its average annual precipitation this year.

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