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Mulberry Fire winding down; cause undetermined

Just two days after firefighters finished extinguishing the 47,000-acre Sawmill Fire, they were battling another brush fire near where the Sawmill Fire ended.

The Mulberry Fire began Saturday eight miles southeast of Vail in the Empire Mountains east of State Route 83. As of Tuesday afternoon, the fire had burned 1,755 acres and was 80 percent contained.

Fewer than 50 of the 200 firefighters assigned to the blaze remained on site Tuesday, extinguishing hotspots and maintaining the fire lines that had been established around the perimeter, said Tiffany Davila, spokeswoman for the Arizona Department of Forestry and Fire Management.

The cause of the fire remains undetermined and is under investigation, Davila said. An earlier statement saying the fire was human-caused was a miscommunication, she said.

Although firefighters were able to have 80 percent of the fire contained by Monday, four structures, including three homes, were lost to the blaze, according to the Arizona Department of Forestry.

Residents of the J-6 and Hilton Ranch area who were under a pre-evacuation order during the Sawmill Fire were evacuated within three hours of the fire’s start. They were allowed to return home Sunday morning.

The firefighters were aided by cooler temperatures Sunday, Monday and Tuesday along with rain. There was also a hail storm Tuesday.

Nine firefighters from the Green Valley Fire District worked on the fire, along with other local firefighters and crews from the Department of Forestry, Bureau of Land Management, the U.S. Forest Service.