Prescott - Nearly 600 firefighters continued to fight the blaze that left 19 elite firefighters dead as the town of Prescott prepared to celebrate American Independence Day on Thursday.
The fire was 45% contained on Wednesday night, up from 8% earlier in the day, and authorities said the figure could change on the Fourth of July as they compile a more complete picture with sophisticated mapping techniques.
So far, the fire has burned about 35km². Hundreds remain evacuated and at least 129 homes have been destroyed, according to a tally released on Wednesday by the Yavapai County Sheriff's Office.
Meanwhile families of the fallen men, and firefighters from across the state are expected to attend the holiday celebration that has made this Old West town the place to be on Independence Day.
And officials say there will be fireworks.
The booming red and white bursts may remind some of the wildfire, that claimed all but one of the Granite Mountain Hotshot crew on Sunday, but the hilltop community of 40 000 is determined to mourn its dead without compromising its traditions or shying away from overt celebration.
The mantra for days has been, "celebration, not grief".
Though much of the southwest remains a tinderbox, fire officials say they will be able to deploy the pyrotechnics safely, pouring water on the detonation area if necessary.