Sunflower wildfire in Arizona grows to 2,500 acres

Parts of the Southwest can expect wildfires early in the season.

National wildfire activity well below normal for the year-to-date

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Signalling the start of the southwestern wildfire season, the Sunflower Fire, burning in a popular recreation area near Phoenix, Ariz,. quickly grew to 2,500 acres during the weekend.

The fire is in an area that was just designated as having a high potential for early season fires mainly due to a dry winter and a heavy load of carryover fuels.

Fire experts say they generally expect an erratic and active weather pattern during May, including windy spells  interspersed with some warmer and drier periods.

According to the fire season outlook from the National Interagency Fire Center, the potential for significant fires is expected to grow across Arizona in the next few months, with uncertainty about how summer weather patterns will develop due to a transition away from the La Niña conditions that persisted the past couple of years.

The seasonal fire outlook is online here.

The Sunflower Fire was reported May 12. It is burning one mile west of Hwy. 87 near the the town of Payson and heading toward a wilderness areas with no structures threatened at this time.

Three Type-1 hotshot crews are working to contain the fire, along with seven engines, two helicopters and three airtankers.

To-date this year there have been about 19,000 fires (average 25,000) that have burned across about 400,000 acres (average 960,000 acres).

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