Grand Canyon fire swells to 8,500 acres, wind expected to pose problem

GRAND CANYON NATIONAL PARK, Ariz. - A wildfire that began last month as a prescribed burn on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon swelled to more than 8,400 acres Monday, and fire crews braced for 25 mph winds.

The fire was 20 percent contained within the park boundaries, but it remained out of control as it headed northeast into Forest Service lands, park spokesman Robert Spoelhof said.

He said officials were hoping for rain, calling it ''our best bet in fighting this fire.''

The fire began April 25 as a prescribed burn designed to help remove brush and grasses on about 1,500 acres, rejuvenate forested areas and prevent large wildfires.

However, strong winds drove the fire through the prescribed burn area, and by Thursday it was in the park and Kaibab National Forest to the north.

The fire wasn't threatening stores, housing or a lodge on the North Rim. Visitors to the area were evacuated last week. The South Rim, where the vast majority of park visitors go, remained open.

About 800 firefighters and support personnel were on the scene Monday, along with four helicopters and seven air tankers.


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