Firefighters battle difficult test with Sunflower Fire


by Andrew Michalscheck

Video report by Steve Ryan

Posted on May 17, 2012 at 6:44 PM

Updated Friday, May 18 at 12:27 PM

PAYSON, Ariz. -- Firefighters are battling difficult conditions as they take on the Sunflower Fire just south of Payson.

With smoky conditions and difficult terrain, the men and women battling the blaze are facing an arduous test.

“It’s hot, it’s dirty, it’s dusty. These guys and gals they’re earning every penny of it,” said Brad Johnson with the U.S. Forest Service.

Making the days even more difficult are the long shifts, as firefighters rotate every 12 hours.

“We’re going to be using air operations as much as we can, but we’ve got to have people remember that it’s the people that put the white stuff on the red stuff that put the fire out,” Emergency Management spokesman Ricardo Zuniga said.

The Sunflower Fire is a grueling task, but it’s one firefighters take on with pride.

“It’s a sense of accomplishment when you’ve worked all day long and you’re hot and you’re dirty, and you’re getting back into fire camp,” Johnson added.

On Thursday, firefighters launched a controlled burnout which is said to have been a success.

The Sunflower Fire spans approximately 14,500 acres, and is about 15 percent contained.

Investigators continue to try and determine what caused the blaze.

For more information on the Sunflower Fire visit