Borderland wildfire near Nogales now 80% contained
A wildfire burning along the U.S.-Mexico border west of Nogales has consumed about 4,900 acres, but did not spread much this weekend despite the wind and dry conditions, said officials with the Coronado National Forest.
The blaze burned about 100 acres on this side of the border overnight Friday, officials said Saturday morning. About another 30 acres burned Saturday and Sunday morning, while Mexican firefighters halted the spread of the blaze on that side of the border.
"High winds, both yesterday and today, have challenged firefighters," fire officials said Sunday. "Winds pushed fire across the border west of Summit Motorway late Friday. Supported by helicopter water drops, crews quickly suppressed the incursion with minimal acreage gain."
"Mexican firefighters focused efforts on the northwest portion of their side of the fire and halted fire spread in that area. This will have the effect of stopping further cross-border movement of the fire onto lands managed by the Coronado National Forest," officials said.
The fire began in Mexico and crossed the border into Arizona on Monday afternoon, spreading on Coronado National Forest lands near Walker Canyon.
About 105 firefighters were working the fire line Sunday, with support from three helicopters that were using the nearby Pena Blanca Lake to dip buckets for water drops on the growing fire.
Fire crews were being reassigned to deal with other incidents Sunday, as the fire was about 80 percent contained, officials said. The fire will be monitored to ensure it remains within the current perimeter.
Officials with the Coronado National Forest said that firefighters were performing active fire suppression Saturday, carving out hand lines to halt the fire's advance, and starting small "burn out" fires in Walker and Alamo Canyons to contain the fire. On Thursday night, officials reported that the fire was about 25 percent contained. Saturday, it was 30 percent contained, but had moved across the border onto the Coronado National Forest west of the existing suppression line at Summit Motorway.
The total acreage reported reflects both the fire's growth and the burn-out operations.
A large portion of the fire continued to burn in Mexico on Saturday, and was growing westward, where it crossed the border into the national forest about 12 miles west of Nogales. Fire crews were building fire lines west toward Sycamore Canyon to check the fire's northward movement, officials said.
Pena Blanca Lake and the entire La Sierra Fire area between Sycamore Canyon and Walker Canyon south of Ruby Road will remain closed until at least May 31, officials said.
This is the second fire in the Coronado National Forest this month.
On May 10, the Triple 2 fire burned 50 acres of brush and oak woodland in the Coronado about seven miles west of Nogales after crossing into the United States from Mexico. That fire has been largely contained, but fire officials said they would continue to monitor the perimeter to respond if it crossed back into the United States.