(Posted on May 15, 2012 at 6:15 p.m.) The Sunflower Fire is burning 21 miles south of Payson. The fire is estimated at 8,500 acres and is approximately 7 percent contained.
As anticipated, the Sunflower Fire was very active today with three areas of growth on the north, northwest and west sides of the fire. The movement has been to the northwest overall. The fire is expected to continue its growth until it contacts the fire lines at the perimeter of the 2004 Willow Fire. At that point, the change in available fuel will significantly reduce fire behavior and provide the opportunity for firefighters to contain the fire.
The Sunflower Fire is presently burning in fuels similar to those that were present in the Willow Fire. These dense fuels, along with the very rugged terrain, contributed to the extreme fire behavior observed today. The reduced fuel found along the perimeter of the Willow Fire will act as a fuel break and help reduce that fire behavior.
No communities are threatened by the Sunflower Fire at this time. Fire information officers will be in Payson this evening and in the days ahead to answer questions. Fire Information phone numbers are 877-208-2202 or 877-208-4331.
Start date: May 12, 2012
Cause: Under Investigation
Fuels: Grass, chaparral, pinyon pine
Terrain: Steep, rugged
Total personnel: 394
Resources: 12 crews, 7 engines, 2 dozers, 2 water tenders
Available air support: 5 helicopters, 6 air tankers
(Source: Central West Zone Incident Management Team)