Surprise Fire Department crew heading down to Sawmill Fire

Posted: Updated:
(Source: 3TV/CBS 5) (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
A tanker aircraft drops slurry on the Sawmill Fire on Monday, April 24. (Source: Jim Moutray via Tucson News Now) A tanker aircraft drops slurry on the Sawmill Fire on Monday, April 24. (Source: Jim Moutray via Tucson News Now)
Because of the dry and windy condition, the National Weather Service has issued a Red Flag Warning for most of Maricopa County and the southern half of the state. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Because of the dry and windy condition, the National Weather Service has issued a Red Flag Warning for most of Maricopa County and the southern half of the state. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
There's also a Wind Advisory 1 p.m.-8 p.m. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) There's also a Wind Advisory 1 p.m.-8 p.m. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
SURPRISE, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -

The Surprise Fire Department is sending a crew south to help fight the Sawmill Fire burning about 40 miles south of Tucson.

The wind-whipped fire has grown to about 7,500 acres as of Monday afternoon; containment, as of Tuesday morning, was at roughly 10 percent, according to the Southeast Arizona Incident Management Team.

[READ MORE: The latest on the Sawmill Fire]

The four-man crew from Surprise is expecting a deployment of two weeks made up for 16-hour days.

“We’re expecting high temperatures, a lot of wind, low humidity, so it’s going to be pretty good fire behavior when we get there," one member of the crew told our Marc Liverman. "[It] seems like it’s going to be a relatively fast-moving fire."

"Our main priority is going to be trying to get in to do structure protection," he continued. "There’s [sic] some communities that are threatened, some ranches that are going to be threatened."

At least 35 homes, mostly in the Signing Valley area, have been evacuated and a 15-mile stretch of SR 83 has been closed. Pre-evacuation orders are in place in other areas.

[SLIDESHOW: Photos of the fire starting and burning through the night]

The Sawmill Fire has been burning since Sunday; the cause is still under investigation. 

Complicating the situation is the wind that’s moving through the state.

Because of the dry and windy condition, the National Weather Service has issued a Red Flag Warning for most of Maricopa County and the southern half of the state. The warning, which signifies serious fire danger, will be in effect Tuesday, 2 p.m.-8 p.m.

"Valley wind gusts may reach speeds of 40 mph, with 50 mph gusts possible for the higher elevations," according to meteorologist Kim Quintero. "With relative humidity as low as 10 percent and dry fuels, this combo will create an explosive fire potential."

[WEATHER: Get your local forecast and more]

The wind is expected to ease up a bit Wednesday, but that’s just the calm before the storm. Literally.

"A stronger and colder trough will track across the region Thursday and Friday," Quintero said. "This will bring the strongest winds Friday."

The Sawmill Fire is burning in grass and brush about 10 miles southeast of Green Valley, which is about 2 hours south of Phoenix via Interstate 10 and then Interstate 19.

Copyright 2017 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

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