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Monument Fire burns 27K acres, 10K evacuated

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Monument Fire burns 27K acres, 10K evacuated

  • Fire damage in the Nicksville area around 4 p.m. Sunday.
    courtesy Pat CallFire damage in the Nicksville area around 4 p.m. Sunday.
  • Nick's Place burns Sunday.
    courtesy Jason Jen KudlaNick's Place burns Sunday.
  • Monument Fire activity around 3 p.m. Sunday.
    Northern Rockies IMTMonument Fire activity around 3 p.m. Sunday.
  • Monument Fire activity at S.R. 92 and Hereford Road on Sunday.
    Northern Rockies IMTMonument Fire activity at S.R. 92 and Hereford Road on Sunday.

The Monument Fire south of Sierra Vista has burned 26,980 acres, and is 27 percent contained, authorities said Monday.

Nearly 1,100 firefighters are battling the blaze, including 108 engines, 9 helicopters and 10 air tankers, fire managers said.

The day after more than 10,000 people were evacuated from the grassy flatlands southeast of Sierra Vista, "fire behavior is expected to be moderate" as calmer winds won't push the flames as quickly as gusty weather did over the weekend.

The fire will is expected to move off Carr Peak and down Carr Canyon toward S.R. 92. Structure protection efforts will continue in Carr and Ramsey Canyons, fire managers said.

"The Ramsey Canyon area is the most difficult piece of terrain many firefighters have ever seen," they said.

Evacuations were ordered south of State Route 90 on Sunday afternoon, as the Monument Fire burning south of Sierra Vista was fanned by 50 m.p.h. wind gusts. More than 10,000 were told to leave the fire's path since Saturday morning, said sheriff's spokeswoman Carol Capas.

The Cochise County Sheriff's Office issued an evacuation order for the area between Ramsey Road and S.R. 90, from Aquaduct (Moson) Road east to the San Pedro River, at 4:35 p.m. Sunday. Hundreds of homes are in the area.

Flames, visible at times from inside the Sierra Vista city limits, jumped S.R. 92 at Carr Canyon around 4:20 p.m., and the fire was burning eastward, authorities said.

"Ash was falling like snow" near Ramsey Road, said Kresent Gurtler, who evacuated his home Sunday afternoon.

Crews were working to keep the main body of the fire from crossing north of Ramsey Road.

Restaurants in the Nicksville area have burned, Cochise County Supervisor Pat Call said.

"It appears that Ricardo's, Nick's Place and the German café have been lost," he said in an email around 4 p.m.

Earlier, the area between Lower Ranch Road and S.R. 90 was under a pre-evacuation order. Residents "are encouraged to be ready to at a moment's notice."  Evacuees should take medications, important papers, money, and enough personal items to sustain them for at least several days, authorities said.

Areas south of Ramsey Road were evacuated earlier.

Ramsey and Hereford roads are closed.

Radio scanner traffic is being streamed live online.

Sunday morning, it was reported to have burned nearly 21,000 acres since it began a week ago. Containment was estimated at 27 percent.

Forty-four homes and 18 other structures have been burned, authorities said.

Winds are forecast to remain strong, with 60 m.p.h. gusts in the canyons and 40 m.p.h. gusts in flat areas. Authorities called the fire "erratic and extremely dangerous."

Anyone needing to evacuate large animals or livestock should call the Sheriff's Office at 520-432-9500 for information on volunteers who can provide assistance.

Evacuation centers have been set up at Apache Middle School (520-249-3297) and Buena High School (520-318-6740) in Sierra Vista, Cochise College in Douglas (520-255-4240). Bisbee High School is opening a center Sunday afternoon.

Smoke from the fire was blown far from Sierra Vista; the Catalina Mountains were shrouded in smoke Sunday afternoon and evening.

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