Human-caused Punkin Fire near Tonto Basin burns nearly 400 acres, now 60% contained

Officials say a human-caused wildfire that has burned nearly 400 acres near Tonto Basin is now 60% contained.

The Punkin Fire prompted evacuations and road closures on Monday, March 8 but all have since been lifted. The fire initially threatened nearby structures, officials said, with winds increasing its spread.

The Arizona Department of Forestry and Fire Management said on Tuesday the fire was caused by an "escaped pile burn on private land." Officials have corrected the name of the fire.

Timeline of the fire

March 10:

The Arizona Department of Forestry and Fire Management said the Punkin Fire has now burned 387 acres and is 60% contained.

"Resources will remain on the fire over next few days to monitor for hotspots and smoke," the department tweeted.


SR-188 was closed in both directions in the area, but it has since been reopened.


There was an evacuation center opened for those being evacuated at Payson Senior Center but it's since been closed due to the orders being lifted and people being allowed back into their homes.


A FOX 10 viewer's home was saved from the Punkin Fire and he shared a video of the flames just feet from his home.


Harley Lewis, manager of Punkin Bar and Grill, says she packed her things immediately after being asked to evacuate and headed to Globe.

"Smoke is pretty bad and the winds are pretty bad ... we had been highly advised to evacuate," she said, adding, "Knowing that we live in a remote town, we're pretty much prepared that it can happen but the eight years that I have lived here, it's happened twice. So I just grab my pets, important stuff and go."

The human-caused fire threatened businesses and homes. More than 150 homes were evacuated, according to the Arizona State Forestry.

Fire crews are confident they secured all homes as about 100 personnel were on scene fighting the fire from multiple agencies, including state and local fire agencies.

"We will have folks on the scene through the night making sure it remains stopped, mopping up anything on the fire's edge and then we will bring people back in tomorrow for a day shift and have the fire staffed again tomorrow," said Bob Arthur with the Arizona Forestry and Fire management.

Watch SkyFOX footage from above the wildfire below:

Get breaking news alerts in the FREE FOX 10 News app. Download for Apple iOS or Android.