Arizona Wildfires Staying Alive

CNN Meteorologist Sarah Dillingham

Wildfires continue to blaze across parts of Arizona after having started as early as May 10.  Firefighters are continuing to struggle with containment of the two largest fires near Phoenix, the Sunflower and Gladiator fires, as critical fire danger has been in place over the Southwest for most of the last week.  The extreme heat returned over the weekend and will continue through Monday, as high temperatures could reach between 107°F – 110°F, and these temperatures have prompted Extreme Heat Warnings and Advisories over the area.  Red Flag Warnings and Fire Weather Watches also remain in effect over much of the Desert Southwest as breezy, dry conditions prevail.  Winds could gust between 25-35 mph today, but conditions will begin worsening over the next 2-3 days as a larger area of critical fire weather returns as early as Tuesday.  Winds could gust up to 40 mph and relative humidity values will be very low as the triple digit heat is forecast to continue over the next 2 days.  All of these factors will create hazardous conditions for crews on the ground.

As of early Monday morning, the Gladiator fire was at 15% containment with nearly 14,000 acres being consumed since its May 13 start, but the Sunflower fire has consumed the most land with over 16,000 acres being charred since May 12.  This fire is at 33% containment which is good news, but the next few days will present a challenge.  The other large wildfire in Arizona, the Bull Flat fire, is now 95% contained and has consumed over 2,100 acres.  Thankfully, that fire is estimated to be fully contained within the next 1-2 days.  The Hewlett fire in eastern Colorado has also seen some improvement as crews reached 87% containment over the weekend, and this fire should be fully contained by Tuesday evening.

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