Sawmill Fire nearly contained

By Harry Alexander / SoAzNewsX

The National Forest Service and Arizona Forest Service firefighters battling the Sawmill Fire in southeast Arizona near the historic Empire Ranch said the fire is 96% contained as of this writing. The latest report from firefighters said the blaze burned 46, 991 acres.

The fire broke out on Apr. 23 about 10 miles southeast of Green Valley and quickly spread due to high winds in the area. The area is roughly 40 miles south of Tucson–the largest metro area in southern Arizona. While the cause of the fire is still under investigation, officials believe it may have been human-caused.

Sawmill Fire as it threatned residential structures. Photo / Sally Reichardt, SoAzNewsX

High winds plagued the fighting of the fire. Officials said the fire jumped State Route 83 and caused numerous evacuations of southeast Arizona residents. A shelter was set up at the Santa Cruz County fairgrounds.

The wildfire briefly threatened the Empire Ranch. Firefighters were able to contain it from spreading onto the Empire Ranch property and threaten the historic structures.

Repairs to guardrail damaged by the Sawmill Fire on State Route 83 are complete and all restrictions on the roadway between Interstate 10 and Sonoita have been lifted, according to the Arizona Department of Transportation.

ADOT crews repaired about two miles of guardrail and supporting posts that were damaged in the fire. Several damaged road signs also were replaced.

SR 83 was closed for three days last week because of the Sawmill Fire. Lane restrictions and reduced speed limits had been in place since Monday morning to allow crews room to make the needed repairs.

For the most current information about highway conditions statewide, visit ADOT’s Traveler Information Site at, follow ADOT on Twitter (@ArizonaDOT) or call 511.

Source: Arizona Department of Transportation

Meantime, clean up of the area is underway. Fire officials have not said when they think the fire will be 100% contained.



Harry Alexander is the Managing Editor of the Southern Arizona News-Examiner.



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