Telegraph Fire

Aerial support in the effort to stop the aggressive eastward growth of the Telegraph Fire Monday.

SUPERIOR – The temperature was so high Wednesday afternoon that aircraft fighting the Telegraph Fire south of Superior were grounded and crews using dozers to scrape firelines were halted.

The high temperature for El Capitan, close to where the fire is burning, was 106 on Wednesday, according to Accuweather.com.

High temperatures are expected to reach 112 over parts of the fire today, according to Telegraph Fire officials.

Over the past few days, outflow winds from thunderstorms have pushed the fire to the south, the east and the west, causing the fire to spread, said Telegraph fire Operations Section Chief Todd Abel. Wednesday, the wind picked up dramatically and pushed the fire across Dripping Springs Road toward Troy Mountain. Fire officials brought in a large number of air tankers, dozers and hand crews to help contain the spread of the fire. Firefighters were able to secure the Government Springs Ranch and several other properties along Dripping Springs Road.

Crews will be working in the Troy Mountain area Thursday and will be scouting for locations along State Routes 77 and 177 to help contain the edge of the fire, he said. So residents of Winkelman, Kearny and Riverside may see firefighters in their area.

Telegraph fire

A photo taken by Telegraph fire Night Operations Section Chief Russ Long from State Route 77 near El Capitan on June 14.

State Route 77 remains closed between U.S. 70 and State Route 177 in Winkleman, according to the Arizona Department of Transportation. There is no estimated time on when the highway might reopen.

Crews will also continue to monitor the fire in the El Capitan and Dripping Springs areas to make sure that structures are protected if the wind should push the fire around again.

Fire officials will hold a Facebook Live event Thursday at 6 p.m. on the Telegraph Fire Information Facebook page.

Fire officials point out that even though the Telegraph Fire has joined with the Mescal Fire, the two fires are still considered separate incidents and are being managed by two different incident teams.

Pinal/Gila Wildfire

Burn area for the Telegraph and Mescal fires Wednesday morning.

The Telegraph Fire has burned 165,740 acres and is 72% contained. It has burned 42 structures. The Mescal fire has burned 72,250 acres and is 90% contained.

The communities of El Capitan, Dripping Springs, Wind Spirit, Hagen Ranch, Slash S Ranch and Government Springs are still listed in a “Go” status, which means that residents should evacuate the area.

The communities of Bellevue, Beverly Hills, Six Shooter and Icehouse are in “Set” status, which means that residents should be ready to leave at a moment's notice.

Superior, Globe, Miami, Claypool, Central Heights, Pinto/Carlotta, Skill Center, Fairgrounds, Schultz Ranch, Ray Mine, Riverside, Kearney, Winkelman, Hayden, Top-of-the-World, Oak Flat and Battle Axe are currently in a “Ready” status, which means that residents should be ready to leave but there is no immediate danger.

Smoke from the fire is supposed to be lighter Thursday and drift toward the west/northwest, with Queen Valley, Hayden, Florence and the Phoenix valley expected to be impacted by the smoke, according to the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality. Superior will see light to moderate smoke throughout the day.

There is also a possibility of dry thunderstorms in the area, resulting in gusty winds in the afternoon which could push smoke in any direction and briefly increase the level of smoke in an area, according to ADEQ.

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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.