A brush fire in the Gila River bed spurred the evacuation of Gila Watershed Partnership volunteers just before noon Monday.
The fire, which started east of the 8th Avenue Safford Bridge, was likely human-caused, said Safford Fire Chief Clark Bingham.
As of 5 p.m. the fire had burned roughly four acres, Bingham said. The fire crews have stopped it from spreading to the east, and he intends to let it burn until dark.
“The temperatures are going to drop, and the fire isn’t going to spread as quickly because of it,” Bingham said. “Hopefully it will lay back on itself and burn itself out.”
There are no structures or utility poles at risk from the fire, he said. Firefighters attempted to clear an area around the fire in the hopes of containing it, but Bingham said the foliage in that part of the river is impenetrable.
Crews will continue to monitor the fire, Bingham said. The department currently has two fire engines and one tanker onsite.
Melanie Tluczek, GWP director, said four volunteers, along with their children, were cleaning up trash at the site of the future Linear Park when they noticed the fire in the river brush. The volunteers, are affiliated with Americorp, Our Neighbors Farm and Pantry, Graham County Cooperative Extension and the San Carlos Apache tribe.