Nearby fire now 80% contained

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Firefighters are working hard to contain a wildfire that began at approximately 1 p.m. yesterday and burned more than 7,000 acres of land south of Maricopa by 9 p.m. The "Vekol" fire is burning 22 miles west of Casa Grande and northeast of the Vekol interchange with Interstate 8.

According to Carrie Templin, spokeswoman for the State Land Department's Fire Management Division, the fire is "moving pretty quickly" and support at the federal, state and local level is on hand. There are 25 fire engines on site. In addition, 10 hand crews, each with 20 firefighters, have been ordered or on site in areas where the engines cannot access.

Hot temperatures make it hard work for firefighters and the concern now is the potential for afternoon gusty winds today. Firefighters will be focusing on the east side of the burning land to prevent any loss of structures. No structure has been lost or damaged yet.

"Firefighters have had their hands full," Templin said. "For the last few weeks in Maricopa, Stanfield and Hidden Valley, there have been between two and four fires per week that firefighters are having to come out and extinguish."

These fires have all been caused by humans. Templin says the firefighters "are doing an exceptional job to make sure we don't lose anything" and wants to assure the community that "we will continue to be there and do everything we can" to protect people and their homes.

Wendell Peacock reported from the scene that the fire was 80% contained as of 3 p.m. today. This is up from just 10% last night. There is no estimated time as to when the fire will be completely contained.