Seed scattered over 1,220 acres burned in San Juan Fire - WDAM - TV 7 - News, Weather and Sports

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Seed scattered over 1,220 acres burned in San Juan Fire

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VERNON, AZ (CBS5) -

Crews are working to restore the 1,220 acres in the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest that were damaged by the San Juan Fire earlier this summer.

The San Juan Fire Burned Area Emergency Response (BAER) said their efforts are nearly finished.

Last week, crews performed aerial seeding of 60,000 pounds of sterile barley and native seed mix over the 1,220 acres burned south of Vernon, AZ.

BAER spokesman Paul Brown said the grass seed mix can sprout quickly and develop roots to reduce soil erosion.

BAER crews have also removed hazardous trees, stabilized roads, set up warning signs and installed gates.

The nearly 7,000-acre fire straddling the Fort Apache Indian Reservation and the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest in the White Mountains was reported just before 12 p.m. June 26.

The fire grew from an initial 100 acres to 2,000 acres by 5 p.m. that day, according to officials with Apache Sitgreaves National Forest and mandatory evacuations were ordered. More than 600 personnel were assigned to fight the fire that is believed to be human-caused.

According to the White Mountain Independent, between 200 to 300 Boy Scouts from Gilbert were in the White Mountains when the fire started.

Matthew Wright was with the group and an additional 100 adults and chaperones who were camping in the area. A group of them split off and headed for a ridge at about 9,000 feet and noticed the smoke. They then went back to base camp and told the others it was time to go.

"Our base camp kids, 12- to 13-year-olds, were still at base camp only about four miles from the fire, and it was encroaching," he said. "We were 11 miles away from them, the 14- through 18-year-olds and the leaders, so we had to get back into our vehicles, repack canoes, get rappelling equipment, (do a) head count before we could leave. We had to leave in phases."

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