Firefighters Step Up Efforts on Arizona Wildfire

Private drone caused fire aircraft to be grounded



CLINTS WELL, Ariz. (AP) — Smoke and driving delays were expected Monday as firefighters ramped up efforts to suppress a wildfire burning in the Coconino National Forest in east-central Arizona.

Fire officials say crews started burning operations along State Route 87 for the fire burning 4 miles (6 kilometers) south of Clints Well.

Traffic on the highway has been reduced to one lane. Drivers should expect delays of at least an hour lasting at least two days, officials said.

Firefighters on Saturday had to ground fire aircraft after a private drone was spotted in a Temporary Flight Restriction area. Operating drones is illegal around wildfires.

The lightning-caused blaze was reported May 30 and has burned almost 10 square miles (24.8 square kilometers). It was 10% contained as of Monday.

Officials say smoke was impacting surrounding areas like Blue Ridge and Payson.

Meanwhile, a grass and brush fire on national forest land on the northeastern outskirts of metro Phoenix was 50% contained after charring over 11 square miles (30 square kilometers).

Tonto National Forest officials said the human-caused fire began Friday and was burning about 8 miles (13 kilometers) east of Cave Creek.

Neither wildfire has threatened any structures or resulted in any injuries, officials said.

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