Seeley fire still burning, closures still in effect
The Seeley Fire continued to burn over the weekend, spreading smoke far and wide and particularly on Sunday afternoon filled Helper with dense smoke.
The fire is now being managed by the Eastern Arizona Incident Management Team commanded by John Philbin.
The fire started on June 26, and grew from a very small fire that hand crews and one helicopter were handling to a large fire that rivals most of those now burning in the state.
The cause of the fire is considered to be dry lightning, and has grown to 25,000 acres as of Monday morning.
According to officials, no structures have been lost so far, but the communities of Hiawatha, Clear Creek and Scofield were all evacuated last week. Full time residents of Scofield were allowed to return to their property on Sunday, but the greater Scofield area still remains under evacuation. Many youth camps in the area also remained closed. The evacuations were largely because of smoke, rather than flames threatening structures. Scofield town residents must obtain a pass from the Emergency Operations Center ((1550 Aiport Road in Price) before they will be allowed into the restricted area.
Sunday, the Skyline Mine and Horizon Mines were cleared to open for regular operations. The Skyline Mine had been operating with just a skeleton crew since last week.
Presently there are between 260 and 300 fire fighters battling the blaze. Equipement being used includes 22 engines and three helicopters. The cost as of Saturday for battling the fire was over $600,000.
The roads that lead to the area of the fire have all been and are continued to be closed. These include SR-31 at Cleveland Reservoir and at Crandall Canyon; SR-284 at Electric Lake; SR-96 at Highway 6; Fish Creek and Bear Ridge Roads at Scofield.