Wildfires smolder across dry, drought-stricken Southwest

This Tuesday, June 8, 2021, photo provided by Arizona Rep. David Cook, a rancher who lives out of Globe, Ariz., shows an aerial tanker preparing to drop fire retardant on a wildfire threatening area homes and ranches. Firefighters in Arizona were fighting Tuesday to gain a foothold into a massive wildfire, one of two that has forced thousands of evacuations in rural towns and closed almost every major highway out of the area. (David Cook via AP)

SUPERIOR — Officials are reminding the public not to enter areas that have been closed due to the Telegraph or Mescal fires after some members of the public were found in a closed area and had to be helped when their vehicle got stuck.

“We need folks to help us to stay out of those areas. We have fire equipment in the area and we’ve had vehicles intrude into the area and get stuck,” said Dean McAlister, a spokesman for the fire’s incident management team Tuesday afternoon. “It’s just a better idea to heed the warnings and stay out of the area until this fire is over with.”

A virtual public meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Wednesday on the Telegraph Fire information Facebook page.

As of 10:30 a.m. Wednesday morning, the fire was 21% contained and covered 80,822 acres. Fire officials reported Tuesday evening that five structures had burned including two homes and three outbuildings.

Most of the area surrounding Superior is contained, said Field Operations Chief Rocky Gilbert Wednesday morning. Fire crews were able to get to the top of Apache Leap and secure the area to help prevent the fire from burning down into Superior.

Crews are still working to secure the area around Top-of-the-World, between Superior and Miami, but things look pretty good in the area, he said.

Russell Gulch was the center of most of the firefighting activity Tuesday, Gilbert said. A lot of aircraft and resources were there to protect structures in the area. Wednesday fire crews were working to create a fire line to provide better protection for the Claypool area.

Fire crews are trying to guide the fire into the scar from the 2017 Pinal Fire, he said.

Several roadways in the area remain closed, according to the Arizona Department of Transportation. U.S. 60 is closed from Superior to Miami. State Route 77 is closed from Globe to Winkelman and State Route 177 is closed from Superior to Winkelman.

Smoke from both the Telegraph and Mescal fires is expected to move toward the northeast, impacting the Globe/Miami area, according to the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality. The areas of Whiteriver, Cibecue, Show Low, Snowflake and Eagar may see some smoke from the fires in the afternoon.

Telegraph Fire Incident Command is also asking people wishing to donate food, water and other supplies to check with the organization they are looking to donate to before purchasing any items. Most responders are well supplied with food, water and other items and are not in need of donations.


Suzanne Adams-Ockrassa is a reporter covering the city of Casa Grande and the surrounding area, as well as Central Arizona College. She can be reached at sadams@pinalcentral.com.