Brush fire closes portion of I-17 near Sunset Point

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NEAR SUNSET POINT -- Fire crews shut down a portion of Interstate 17 for a time Saturday morning and afternoon after a brush fire jumped the freeway.

Firefighters from the Bureau of Land Management spent later part of the day trekking through 50 charred acres, looking for hot spots.

Forty firefighters, nine engines and a chopper responded to the fast-moving brush fire.

The wind was so strong at time that it whipped the flames right across I-17. The grass in the median was burned, as was the vegetation east of the highway.

The southbound lanes were shut down for nearly two hours, and traffic was backed up for miles.

Investigators don't know for sure what sparked the fire, but they do believe people are to blame.

Because this has been such a wet winter, there is quite a bit of vegetation -- plants, grass and trees that are now drying out. That has fire crews preparing for what they expect will be a hectic fire season.