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Friday, 28 April 2017 07:59

Fighting the Sawmill Fire is a Statewide Effort Featured

The Sawmill Fire continues to burn near Green Valley, Arizona.

Latest Fire Update: Winds continue to challenge firefighters

April 28, 2017 Morning Update

Estimated Acres: 46,954 (based on a visual estimate)

Start Date: April 23, 2017

Cause: Human causedunder investigation

Origin Location: 10 miles southeast of Green Valley, Arizona

Containment: 40%

Fuels: Tall grass, riparian woodland, mesquite/oak brush, oak woodland, and pinyon-juniper

Total personnel: Approximately 800

A community meeting will be held tonight, Friday April 28, at 7:00 p.m. at the Benson School’s Multipurpose Room at 360 S. Patagonia St, Benson, AZ.  It will be livestreamed on American Sign Language services and captioning will be provided.

Yesterday firefighters on the ground, aided by aerial resources in the morning, were successful in extending fireline construction and minimizing the spread of the Sawmill Fire. The fire is estimated to have grown by 6,598 acres, with the majority of growth on the northeast end of the fire. As wind increased, ash whirls and dust devils were sighted within several areas of the fire and are expected to be very noticeable today.

A Red Flag Warning is in effect today from 10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. South/Southwest winds 12 to 17 miles per hour (mph) through mid-morning, then Southwest/West 25 to 30 mph, with gusts 40 to 45 mph in the late morning and afternoon. The potential for very active fire behavior is expected with rapid rates of spread and short to moderate range spotting today.  To view interactive fire activity throughout the day visit: Winds are also expected to limit the use of air support today.

Firefighters continue to work around the entire fire perimeter, however they are focusing the majority of efforts today on the northeast side of the fire, which continues to be the most active. Firefighters will continue to go direct on the fire’s edge where they can do so safely and effectively. They are also developing contingency plans should rapid fire growth occur.  Firefighters continue to conduct structure assessments and provide structure protection. Resources assigned to the fire include 16 crews, 67 engines, seven water tenders, seven helicopters, and miscellaneous overhead. Five air tankers are also available locally.

An evacuation order remains in place for Rain Valley. Arizona Highway 83 is now open to public traffic. The evacuation center at the Santa Cruz County Fairgrounds has moved to the Sonoita Bible Church, located at 3174 Arizona Highway 83, Sonoita, Arizona.

A briefing for news media will be held today at the Santa Cruz County Fairgrounds at 4:00 p.m.

Officials from the Santa Cruz County Fair and Rodeo Association have been extremely accommodating to the incident management team and firefighters. The Sonoita Horse Racing event scheduled at the fairgrounds for the weekend of May 6 and 7 is still on schedule. 

Official Fire Info and Links to County Evacuation Alerts on Inciweb:

Facebook:             Twitter:

Fire Info (Public) - (520) 455-9340 or (520)455-9328         Fire Info (Media) - (505) 750-4636

The Sawmill Fire started on Sunday (April 23, 2017) around 11 AM about 10 miles southeast of Green Valley, Arizona. Since then, it has grown to nearly 47K acres and is now under the command of a Type 1 Incident Management team led by Commander Bea Day. 

Pre-evacuations and evacuations have occurred in several communities. It is currently contained at 40%.

799 total personnel are assigned to the fire, including firefighters from other communities that have been called to assist.

State Route 83 is reopened after being closed for nearly three days. Arizona Department of Transportation explains, "Drivers can expect local delays as ADOT crews repair guardrails damaged by the fire. Lane restrictions and reduced speed limits are expected in the area where crews are working."

Fresh Fruit for Firefighters

The Wildland Firefighter Guardian Institute, represented by Roxanne Warneke (Granite Mountain Hotshot Billy Warneke’s widow) delivered 350 pounds of fresh fruit to the crews fighting the Sawmill Fire. 

Image courtesy of Wildland Firefighter Guardian Institute.

"Fresh fruit is a commodity that wildland firefighting crews normally do without on the fire line. Fruit is a good source of natural carbs and fiber, is a great pick me up on a hot day, and gives the firefighter a break from bland MREs,” explains their Facebook page. 

Image courtesy of Wildland Firefighter Guardian Institute.

Governor Ducey Requests National Guard Unmanned Aerial Asset To Aid Sawmill Fire Response

PHOENIX — In a call and letter to the Office of the Secretary of Defense General James Mattis, Governor Doug Ducey today requested the use of an unmanned aerial asset operated by the Arizona Air National Guard to aid first responders as they fight to contain the Sawmill fire. The governor was joined in the request by Arizona Department of Emergency and Military Affairs (DEMA) Director Major General Michael McGuire.

The Sawmill fire has consumed more than 40,000 acres in Southern Arizona. With critical weather conditions peaking going into the weekend, the fire response team was upgraded to a Type I Incident Management Team.

“I commend the hundreds of brave first responders working around the clock to fight wildfires in Arizona,” said Governor Ducey. “These men and women have been operating in incredibly tough conditions and putting their lives on the line for the sake of their fellow citizens. We are praying for their safety as well as all of those affected by these fires.

“My office continues to work in coordination with General McGuire, DEMA and State Forester Jeff Whitney to make sure that our firefighters have every resource available. The use of this critical asset will provide real-time hazard information to first responders on the ground – allowing them to most effectively deploy their resources in response. We will continue to coordinate closely with state officials and our congressional delegation to ensure our firefighters every resource available to protect Arizonans.”

Last modified on Friday, 28 April 2017 10:34
Lynne LaMaster

Lynne LaMaster is the Founder and Editor of the eNewsAZ Network of websites. She asks a lot of questions! In her spare time, she loves photography, cooking and hanging out with her family.

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Editor Lynne LaMaster


Prescott, Arizona