Firefighters have now contained 70 percent of the Nogales wildfire, which has spread to 10,775 acres and forced the temporary closure of a portion of the Coronado National Forest and Sierra Vista Ranger District, according to a U.S. Forest Service news release distributed on Friday.
On Thursday, firefighters completed securing the perimeter of the wildfire, which started Friday, May 17. Hand torches were deployed on the ground to force the fire to retreat, and plastic flammable shells were dropped from helicopters to ignite unburned areas, in an attempt to prevent the flames from spreading.
Fire officials will begin withdrawing many personnel and equipment on Friday, even as residents nearby will continue to see fire activity and smoke until both are extinguished.
As firefighters battle the blaze, the Forest Service has closed the Soldier Basin Area north to Flux Canyon and has prohibited motorists from driving on Forest Service roads nearby. Those who violate these prohibitions are subject to arrest and fines of up to $10,000, according to the release. The area is expected to open May 31, although officials may decide to open it earlier.
Officials believe the fire was caused by humans, but have not determined how it started.
The U.S. Forest Service has estimated humans cause as many as 90 percent of wildfires, often because of unattended campfires, negligently discarded cigarettes, the burning of debris or intentional acts of arson.