June 8 (UPI) — The fast-moving wildfire has consumed about 7,500 acres in Tonto National Forest in Arizona on Saturday.
The Mountain Fire, which began around noon Friday, was started by humans, according to InciWeb, an interagency emergency management service. It was burning near Cave Creek about 90 miles northeast of Phoenix. On Friday night, it had consumed 6,200 acres.
The fire “remained active through the night,” according to a Twitter post by Tonto National Forest.
The fire was burning east and northeast toward Bartlett Lake, where air tankers and a helicopters were dipping out water. That included a DC-10 that can haul about 1,200 gallons compared with 3,000 gallons from wildland firefighting aircraft.
A total of 243 personnel and eight engines are fighting the fire, according to InciWeb.
Strong winds are making it difficult to fight the fire though they are forecast to die down Saturday.
“That’s the real fight to this fire today, is the wind,” Brad Widhalm with Tonto National Forest told KPHO-TV. “We have little line around it and it’s continuing to march on.”
Tonto Forest is the fifth largest in the United States with almost 3 million acres that range from Saguaro cactus-studded desert to pine-forested mountains beneath the Mogollon Rim. Its boundaries are Phoenix to the south, the Mogollon Rim to the north and the San Carlos and Fort Apache Indian reservations to the east.
All day-use areas and campgrounds near Horseshoe and Bartlett lakes have been closed.
A mandatory evacuation was ordered Saturday, which was an upgrade from a voluntary Friday.
Throughout the night, lines of vehicles with RVs and boats left Bartlett Lake throughout the evening.
It is one of the most-visited “urban” forests in the U.S. with approximately 5.8 million people annually, according to the U.S. Forest Service.