PAYSON, Ariz. – Firefighters appeared to be gaining control over a wildfire that has threatened homes and other structures in two northern Arizona forests. The 6-square-mile Promontory fire was 60 percent contained by Saturday and officials projected full containment by Tuesday.
Crews were working Saturday to reinforce a containment line surrounding the 4,000-acre fire and patrol for any hot spots. Nearly 700 firefighters were working the blaze, which started Sunday and was believed to have been caused by a human.
Crews burned vegetation around the fire Friday to try to starve it of fuel. They also used bulldozers to scrape a second line around the fire on the Tonto and Apache-Sitgreaves national forests, said Lori Cook, a spokeswoman for the team fighting the blaze.
"We're starting to secure the southern portion of the fire," Cook said. "The north end looks great. Everything is going as planned."
Rain in the area Friday also doused some flames and dampened other unburned pockets within the blaze. But Cook said thunderstorms forecast Saturday also could bring wind.
"When you have erratic winds, you have erratic fire behavior," she said.
Flames remained about a mile from the community of Christopher Creek. The community is south of See Canyon, where some 20 residents were evacuated from cabins. The caretaker of a nearby bible camp also was evacuated.
Officials said the evacuees could be allowed to return this weekend if the fire does not flare up.
Elsewhere, rain helped firefighters fight a blaze Friday that burned 27 square miles of forest in the dry southern New Jersey Pinelands. The New Jersey Forest Fire Service had the fire 90 percent contained on Saturday, and hoped to have it fully under control by the end of the day, said Bert Plante, a division fire warden.
At the height of the fire, 6,000 people were evacuated and a handful of homes were damaged or destroyed. The blaze was between 90 and 95 percent contained as of late Friday afternoon, said Jim Petrini, assistant fire warden with the New Jersey Forest Fire Service. He said it would likely be declared under control this weekend.
New Jersey Air National Guard officials said the fire might have been sparked by a flare dropped from an F-16 fighter jet during a training mission Tuesday.
Firefighters were making progress battling a wildfire along the Georgia-Florida border, which was 70 percent contained Friday, officials said.
But Ronda Sutphen, a fire prevention officer with the Florida Division of Forestry, said a cold front expected this weekend could spread the fire. "It's a bad forecast," Sutphen said.
Residents of about 200 homes were allowed to return Friday, but some 541 homes remained evacuated Friday, Columbia County spokeswoman Paulette Lord said.
A fire in northern Minnesota that had burned 117 square miles in the U.S. and Canada as of Friday could be brought under control by Sunday, officials said