Telegraph Fire repairs

Telegraph Fire Resource Adviser Kelly Mott-LaCroix took this photo of an excavator repairing a fire line that was dug to protect an area threatened by the Telegraph Fire. More than 21 miles of dozer lines were dug in the fire area to protect communities and resources. 

SUPERIOR — Crews fighting the Telegraph Fire over the weekend were challenged by high winds on Sunday, just as a new incident command team started to take over.

Northwest Incident Management Team 6 took over Saturday evening, relieving the Southwest Area Type 1 Incident Management Team 2. The Southwest team had been managing the fire since about June 5.

The fire had burned 180,685 acres and was 67% contained. It has burned 52 structures. It started the afternoon of June 4 south of Superior and is believed to be human-caused.

On Sunday, strong winds pushed the fire to the southeast around Mescal Mountain. Helicopters were used to slow the fire’s spread and crews worked on protecting power lines in the area.

Overnight, more favorable weather decreased fire activity and pushed the fire away from Government Springs Ranch and the communities along Dripping Springs Road, according to fire officials.

Monday, crews continued flying a couple of large helicopters over the southern portion of the fire, said Telegraph Operations Section Chief Joel Brasch during a morning briefing. Crews will also be mopping up and watching a couple of hot areas around the communities of Troy and Government Springs. Crews will also be patrolling and mopping up in the El Capitan area.

The fire has reached Ray Mine but incident command is comfortable with how the fire is currently behaving in the area, he said.

In the U.S. 60 corridor, crews will be removing hazardous dead trees along Forest Service Road 651 as well as marking areas that may need remediation from fire damage. Crews will also be repairing fire lines dug by hand or dozer in areas no longer threatened by fire.

State Route 77 is open to El Capitan residents only between U.S. 70 and El Capitan.

The following communities are still in a “Go” status, which means that residents should have evacuated: Dripping Springs, Wind Spirit, Hagen Ranch, Slash S Ranch and Government Springs.

The following communities are listed in “Ready” status: El Capitan, Six Shooter and Ice House canyons, Superior, Globe, Miami, Claypool, Central Heights, Pinto/Carlotta, Skill Center, Fairgrounds, Schulze Ranch, Ray Mine, Top-of-the-World, Bellevue, Oak Flat, Beverly Hills, Riverside, Kearny, Winkelman, Hayden and Battle Axe. Ready status means that the community is not in immediate danger but residents should still be prepared to leave.

Smoke from the fire should be very light and impact areas to the east and southeast of the fire. San Carlos and Safford could see some smoke overhead, but impacts at the surface should be light.

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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.