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AZ wildfire threatens town

A wildfire Wednesday was burning within two miles of the Arizona community of Summerhaven.

BY DISASTER NEWS NETWORK | SUMMERHAVEN, Ariz. | June 18, 2003


"Arizona has been besieged in the last week."

—Mary Zabinski


A wildfire Wednesday was burning within two miles of the Arizona community of Summerhaven.

All of Summerhaven was evacuated, and the fire was threatening some 300 homes and 50 businesses, said Mary Zabinski, a U.S. Forest Service fire information officer.

The fire, called the Aspen Fire, was 150 acres by Wednesday afternoon, and was burning about 20 miles northeast of Tucson, according to Mary Lee Peterson, another U.S. Forest Service fire information officer.

More than 180 fire fighters were on the scene trying to control the blaze, just south of Summerhaven. "We're extremely concerned," said Peterson. The U.S. Forest Service was planning to set up a command post at Sabino High School.

The fire was leaping from treetop to treetop in a forest that is dry because of drought.

Forecasters predicted hot and dry conditions for Wednesday.

The fire began Tuesday afternoon and occurred in the same area that was torched by a major fire last summer, but Zabinski said the intensity and extent of this fire appears to be of a lesser order. "That one was ripping and roaring because we had fire conditions from hell, which we don't have this year," she said. Last year's Bullock Fire destroyed more than 30,000 acres.

After a slow start, this year's fire season could end up being a challenging one after all, Zabinski added. "Arizona has been besieged in the last week."

Experts are still predicting the 2003 fire season will be less intense than in 2002.


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