Meanwhile, thousands will remain under evacuation orders.
At least 2,500 homes in Gila county have been evacuated, said Carl Melford, the county emergency manager. He estimated that there are twice as many households who are in “set” mode with bags packed just in case.
“Over the past three years, we’ve had some pretty extreme fire seasons,” said Melford, who has bags at his front door. “We’ve become very familiar with the process, with what it takes to evacuate a community. But this is the largest evacuation to date.”
Becky Stephenson, 37, whose Globe home sits on a hill near US Highway 60, is feet away from a zone under “set” status. Still, she decided to have essentials, including her pet parrot, Buddy, and his travel cage, ready to go.
Watching flames climb trees on Monday night from her home as the fire made its way into the Pinal mountains and create an eerie orange glow was surreal, Stephenson said.
“Honestly, it just makes me feel like I can’t wait till they get it under control and I can go out and start helping them revegetate,” said Stephenson, who is a plant biologist. “It’s just really sad to think about all of the torched plants and all of animals that lost their habitat during breeding season.”
Meanwhile, Superior residents remain in “set” mode. But about 400 people in nearby Top-of-the-World have been evacuated, said Lauren Reimer, a Pinal county sheriff’s office spokeswoman.
Officials with the American Red Cross say 90 residents in total stayed at shelters in Globe and Mesa on Monday.
Several miles east of the wildfire, the smaller Mescal fire reached 33% containment on Wednesday. That fire has burned more than 70,000 acres (28,500 hectares), mostly desert brush, oak and grass. It was first reported 2 June south-east of Globe. The cause is still under investigation.