Wick News Service
Steve Reno/ Wick News Service Smoke billowed out across part of the Sulphur Springs Valley at a brush fire along Highway 181 near Sunizona. Chiricahua National Monument is in the background in this photo of the fire which started Wednesday afternoon.
The Cochise County Sheriff’s Department received the initial call at 2:02 p.m. today, and the Sunsites-Pearce Fire Department later requested deputies’ assistance in evacuating residents from their homes, said spokeswoman Carol Capas.
The sheriff’s department had evacuated 20 families as of 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, and
Highway 191 “just now closed,” she said.
A plane has already dropped two loads of slurry and is coming back with another load, Capas said.
She said that firefighters have battled four blazes today – Highway 191 (near Elfrida), Highway 181 (near Sunizona), Sybil Road outside St. David, and one near Portal.
The Highway 181 fire is under control, Capas told the Range News.
The National Weather Service had put a red flag warning, a hazardous weather outlook, and a wind advisory in effect for Cochise County on Thursday.
The warnings come as a strong low-pressure system is expected to approach the region tonight, and then move into the Four Corners area Thursday afternoon, the weather service said.
The weather service says that the combination of strong, gusty winds, low relative humidifies, and a high to very high fire danger will result in critical fire weather conditions from late Thursday morning going into the evening across much of Southeast Arizona.
The weather service is forecasting winds of west winds of 25 to 35 mph on Thursday.