The ‘Woodbury Fire’ in Superstition Wilderness, has consumed over 96,000 acres


Riley Pendelton, Staff Photographer

The Woodbury fire on Friday as seen from above Tortilla Flats

Ole Olafson, Reporter

If you have looked to the east in the last several days—past Mesa and beyond the Superstition Mountains—you may have noticed the vast, billowing, plumes of smoke from the “Woodbury Fire.”

As of Sunday, the fire had devoured over 96,000 acres.

The Emergency Information Network specifies that the fire is human-caused and originated five miles NW of the town of Superior, Ariz.  There are over 1,100 individuals currently fighting the fire.  Fortunately, the site also reports that the southwestern tip of the fire, closest to the communities of Gold Canyon, Apache Junction and Queen Valley has not progressed in several days.

The fire is burning in a rugged wilderness area in the Tonto National forest south of SR188.

Northeast Valley News visited the small community of Tortilla Flats, along the Apache Trail (SR 88) on Friday, June 21.  The outpost currently marks the “end of the line” for travelers on SR 88, as the rest of the road is closed to its intersection with SR 188.  SR 188 remains closed between its intersection with SR 88 and SR 288 (Young Road).

North East Valley News observed that the fire appeared a distance from Tortilla Flats, but the breadth and scope of the fire was obviously immense.  It was also very apparent by the numerous clouds of smoke of different size and intensity, that the Woodbury fire appears to be a mass of individual fires rather than a single wall of flame.

The intensely rugged terrain of the area and the lack of maintained roads to allow for transporting crews and equipment needed to fight the growing wildfire continues to be a challenge.

The Arizona Republic reported that the fire had consumed an additional 14,000 acres of public land Friday night, growing to nearly 88,000 acres by Saturday morning, according to officials and that approximately 250 residents and surrounding the community of Roosevelt had been ordered to evacuate on Thursday.  A shelter has been established in Miami for those residents until they are able to safely return to their homes.

On Sunday, the Woodbury Fire had reportedly spread over another 6,000 acres on Saturday night and crews had reportedly lost ground in containing the fire.  Containment levels for the Woodbury Fire are reportedly around 25%.

The other fire which is affecting the Phoenix area is the “Badger Springs” fire.  It started on Friday afternoon in the median of I-17.

That fire, which has grown to approximately 2,000 acres, initially caused lane closures and traffic delays on the interstate.

As of Saturday afternoon, I-17 was open with no fire caused delays.

As of 10:00 AM Tuesday, June 25, the “Incident Information System”, Inciweb, reports that although the Woodbury fire has increased in size to almost 116,000 acres, fire personnel seem to be bringing it under control.

Update: The website reports that the massive fire is nearly 50% contained.  It appears that firing operations and increased drops of fire retardant have established strong perimeters on the east, south and western edges of the fire.  The report states that if the fire continues to be brought under control, fire personnel will be transitioned from a “Type 1” to a “Type 3 Incident Management Team” and evacuated residents may be able to return to their homes and businesses in the next few days.