Wildfire causes heavy smoke, reduced speed on AZ roads

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Two wildfires growing across Arizona have caused reduced visibility on State Route 69 and a reduced speed limit on State Road 87, according to the Arizona Department of Transportation.

ADOT said smoke from the Gladiator Fire near Crown King has reduced visibility on SR 69, east of Cordes Junction.

At this time, the highway is not closed; however, ADOT advises drivers to slow down, remain alert and use caution in this area.

ADOT is also temporarily reducing the speed limit on State Route 87 from 65 mph to 45 mph in both directions between mileposts 191 and 193 to help fire crews and supply vehicles merging with other traffic as they enter and exit the Sunflower Fire base camp north of Fountain Hills.

As crews continue to battle the blaze, there is a steady flow of traffic in and out of the base camp, located on the Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation just north of the Verde River. The reduced speed limit will assist vehicles merging into SR 87 traffic. Drivers traveling between the Valley and the Payson area also should watch for other traffic control devices in place to aid firefighting vehicles merging and turning into the base camp, ADOT said.

The following tips are recommended for driving in reduced visibility due to smoke from wildfires:

  • Check traffic immediately around your vehicle (front, back and to the side) and begin slowing down.
  • Do not stop in the travel lane unless the vehicle traffic in front of you has come to a stop.
  •  Look for a safe place to pull completely off the paved portion of the roadway.
  •  Stop the vehicle in a position ensuring it is a safe distance from the main roadway and not near where any vehicles may travel.
  • Turn off all vehicle lights.
  • Set your emergency brake and take the foot off the brake.
  • Stay in the vehicle and keep your seat belts on.
  • Wait for the visibility to improve before re-entering the roadway.

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