Sunflower Fire near Payson fueled by wind

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SUNFLOWER, Ariz. -- The wind continues to give firefighters all they can handle as they battle the ongoing Sunflower Fire just south of Payson.

The flames are gaining steam with every gust of wind, and moving even closer to Highway 87.

Officials say keeping Highway 87 and the power lines in the area out of harm’s way is one of their biggest concerns.

“That’s been one of the real objectives of this incident is to keep the fire west of the power lines and west of Highway 87, and that’s been very successful up to this point,” Incident Management Spokesman Dee Hines said.

Due to the rugged terrain surrounding the area, firefighters are being forced to rely heavily on air attack.

Temporary “heliwells” have been established in order to shorten the turnaround times for air attacks.

Tanker trucks are also being utilized to transport water. 

Crews that are fighting the blaze on the ground are forced to face some rather unpleasant conditions.

“It’s pretty hot, uncomfortable, and smoky right now for our crews out there,” Hines added.

The Sunflower Fire spans 12,500 acres, and is just 10 percent contained.

The blaze began on May 12. The cause of the fire has yet to be determined.

For more information about the Sunflower Fire visit www.inciweb.org.