The Mescal and Telegraph Fires are both less than 25 percent contained as of Wednesday morning

By Rachel DeSantis
June 09, 2021 12:58 PM
telegraph fire
Credit: telegraph fire information/ Facebook

Two wildfires that have charred more than 150,000 total acres of land are raging in Arizona, prompting evacuations as firefighters work around the clock to get them under control.

The Mescal Fire broke out on June 2 in Globe, and since then, has burned through 70,066 acres, according to the Interagency Incident Information Center.

As of Wednesday morning, it was 23 percent contained, and officials said its "remote and rugged" location posed "significant challenges" to firefighting operations.

The cause remains under investigation, though officials said that firefighters have been able to reduce the threat to "important infrastructure, resources and communities, including San Carlos, Highway 70 and the 700 road."

The Telegraph Fire, meanwhile, has gobbled up more than 80,000 acres since it broke out on Friday, and 751 personnel have managed to get it 21 percent contained as of Wednesday morning, according to a Facebook page called Telegraph Fire Information.

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The blaze - which has burned at least five structures - has grown into the ninth-largest wildfire in Arizona's history, Dean McAlister, spokesperson for the incident command center, told the Arizona Republic.

A Facebook update said the Telegraph Fire was started by a person, and the cause remains under investigation.

McAlister told the Republic that he was "hopeful" the fire would not reach the Arizona cities Globe and Miami, but that the possibility was "still a concern."

"We have a lot of firefighters staged throughout this area and, for the most part, we are confident, to some degree, that we'll be able to keep it out of those communities," he told the outlet. "At night, our goal is to bring the fire - when there's no wind - is to bring it down, to create a buffer, which is when the main fire burns into it and it settles down."

Officials have ordered evacuations throughout the state, though places like Boyce Thompson Arboretum, Arizona's biggest and oldest arboretum, planned to reopen on Wednesday after clearing the area on Monday, the Republic reported.

"It was horrifying and it was scary," Executive Director Lynne Nemeth told the outlet. "I've been near tears this whole time thinking about the people affected and the wildlife affected, the livelihoods of people that work here and of course all the plants."

She did note, however, that she believed the arboretum "dodged a bullet," and that it doesn't appear any plant collections were affected.

Also lucky were Jan Sweet and her boyfriend Jerry, who believe that their newly renovated RV in Top-of-The-World likely escaped damage.

Still, the couple told the Republic that the Telegraph Fire forced them to flee, and that they drove about two hours to Mesa to take shelter at a local high school.

"Thinking of all the things that we had to leave behind, and it was kinda tough," Sweet said. "You sit, drive down the road, and you're just thinking, I got a square container, clear plastic, and it's got snowmen and stuff in it, and it belonged to my daddy, and I thought I was gonna lose it."

This week's evacuations come three years after the couple's home near Paradise, California was nearly destroyed in the 2018 Camp Fire.

"Paradise burnt down, and we were the next town over," Sweet told the Republic. "After that, Jerry said: I want to go home. Because he was raised and brought up in this area. So, we rented a U-Haul and came out here."