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Wildcat Fire in Arizona's Tonto National Forest grows to 14,000 acres

PHOENIX – Hundreds of firefighters in Arizona are working to contain a large wildfire in the Tonto National Forest northeast of Phoenix that has burned thousands of acres of land since igniting on Saturday.

Officials said the Wildcat Fire was first reported Saturday morning near Vista Verde, west of Bartlett Lake in the Cave Creek Ranger District.

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The Wildcat Fire has now expanded to 14,283 acres and was only 23% contained as of Tuesday morning.

It is not known how the fire started, but officials listed the cause as “human-related.”

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Portion of Tonto National Forest closed

Part of the Tonto National Forest was closed when the fire broke out, and officials said visitors were carefully evacuated from Bartlett Lake in the forest as the fire spread. The Maricopa County Sheriff's Office also closed Bartlett Dam Road as the fire burned on both sides of the road.

People have been asked to avoid the area as crews continue to battle the fire.

Under the order, the closed portion of the Tonto National Forest will remain closed until at least June 19 unless the order is lifted.

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Firefighters from other states are joining the fight against Wildcat Fire

According to a report from FOX 10 Phoenix, Geronimo and Prescott hotshot crews, air tankers and a helicopter were called to assist with firefighting, and Scottsdale Fire also worked to contain the fire.

In addition, FOX 10 said crews from outside Arizona have also joined the fight against the Wildcat Fire, including a crew from Montana.

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Officials said they expect little to no movement of the fire due to favorable weather conditions and an effective firefighting response. Firefighters are also expected to explore opportunities to construct fire lines and create a plan to protect infrastructure and natural resources that may be at risk.

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Officials are urging the public not to fly drones in the area as it poses a safety risk.

“Remember that drones and firefighting aircraft are a dangerous mix and could lead to accidents or slow wildfire response,” officials said. “If you fly, we can’t.”

Anna Harden

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