GOLD CANYON — More than 500 personnel have been assigned to fight a growing wildfire in a remote area of northern Pinal County near Superior, fire officials said Thursday.

Incident managers say the fire has burned nearly 16 square miles of grass and brush in rugged terrain of the Tonto National Forest, up from Wednesday’s 14.5 square miles.

They say it wasn’t as windy as expected Thursday, but the fire likely grew in size.

The current acreage won’t be known until infra-red readings can be done by flyovers. That information should be released early Friday.

Along with the increase in fire personnel on the scene along with engines, increased air support, supplies, and heavy equipment have been called in. Fire officials say the goal is to box in the fire, pushing it north away from communities. Crews are specifically assigned to build lines and use natural features to protect “values at risk,” that include and are not limited to:

  • the communities of Queen Valley Estates, Estrada, Gold Canyon, Superior, Apache Junction
  • JF Ranch and disbursed homes, ranches and range improvements
  • APS and SRP power lines
  • Arizona Trail and Sonoran Desert ecosystem, including the saguaro and hedge hog cactus; riparian waterways
  • historic sites

With an excessive heat warning, firefighters and public safety remain the top priority, fire officials said.

About 500 people attended a community meeting Wednesday evening in Gold Canyon to hear firsthand information about the fire and team operations.

Officials said communities have shown great generosity and interest in the fire. However, donations of baked goods, food, and other commodities are not allowed due to health guidance procedures.