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KNAU and Arizona News

KNAU's Morning Fire Update: Tuesday, June 22

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Coconino National Forest
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It’s Tuesday, June 22. The Kaibab National Forest and Coconino National Forest will close tomorrow at 8:00 a.m to mitigate further wildfire risk.  Forest officials say the closure is indefinite. The announcement comes as wildfires burn across northern Arizona, prompting evacuations in Strawberry and Pine along with parts of Heber and Overgaard.

Check out the latest updates — and resources — below:

Rafael Fire: Communities Remain In “Set” Status 

The Coconino County Sheriff’s Office has ordered residents in several Flagstaff and surrounding neighborhoods to prepare for potential evacuation as the Rafael fire continues to burn between Sedona and Paulden. The county ordered residents to enter “set status” in areas south of I-40 and west of I-17 — including Kachina Village, University Heights, Forest Highlands, Pine Dell, Woody Mountain Road, Pine Aire Estates and South Garland Prairie. The announcement is not an evacuation order, but a notice for preparation. 

Residents of northern Paulden have also entered “set” status. No evacuation orders have been issued in Yavapai County, YSCO told KNAU Tuesday morning.

Tuesday Morning: No Containment For Rafael Fire

As of Tuesday morning, the Rafael Fire has reached 24,064 acres with no reported containment, according to the Bureau of Land Management. This is a developing story; updates from the BLM can be found here.

It’s one of several lightning-caused fires that ignited late last week amid dry thunderstorms. Evacuation orders went into effect Sunday for camping areas in Sycamore Canyon and regions south of Forest Service Road 535 near Forest Service Road 231. 

Resources: Coconino County Call Center Established

Coconino County has established an emergency call center due to the active Rafael Fire; 

Residents can call 928-679-8647 or email rafaelfire@coconino.az.gov

The county also encourages residents to sign up for emergency notifications at coconino.az.gov/ready. Notifications are available in multiple languages including English and Spanish.

A briefing is scheduled today at 1:00 p.m. from the Coconino County Board of Supervisors — members of the public can access the meeting over Zoom or by dialing 877 853 5247.

Backbone Fire: Burnout Operations Start, Evacuations Remain Effective

Fire crews, meanwhile, began burnout operations near Strawberry to further contain the Backbone Fire, according to the fire’s incident management team. 

Evacuations remain in effect for Strawberry and Pine.

The lightning-caused fire reached 32,757 acres with no containment reported as of Tuesday morning. This is a developing story and updates can be found here

Parts of State Route 87 and State Route 260 are closed indefinitely, per the Arizona Department of Transportation. A shelter has been established at the Rim Country Middle School in Payson, along with a livestock shelter at the Payson Event Center.

Snake Fire Near Clints Well Prompts “Set” Status

Coconino County on Monday night extended an order for “set” status to several communities due to another fire seven miles west of Clints Well. The county is directing residents of Happy Jack Lodge, Clear Creek Pines One and Two, Poor Farm, Fisher Properties and Mahan Park to prepare for potential evacuation. 

Coconino National Forest Officials reported the Snake Fire Monday afternoon at 10 to 20 acres near the Apache Maid Lookout.

Wyrick Fire Prompts Evacuation Orders, Road Closures

The lightning-caused Wyrick Fire reached 7,101  acres as of Tuesday morning with no containment, according to the Bureau of Land Management. This is a developing story: find updates here.

Evacuation orders have been issued for Antelope Valley, Despain Ranch and Heber and Overgaard north of Highway 277. 

Forest officials say Overgaard residents south of Highway 260 have entered “ready” status for potential evacuation, along with High Country Pines and Kendall Ranch.

Residents in other Heber areas Chevelon Ranches and communities in Overgaard south of Highway 277 and North of Highway 260 are in “set” status. 

Shelters have been established at the Holbrook High School; livestock and pets will be sheltered at the Navajo County Fairgrounds.

Shelter Services In Flagstaff Amid Forest Closures

Flagstaff Shelter Services is directing community members to access the organization's overflow shelter as fires continue in the region. The announcement comes as forest closures are announced — potentially affecting individuals experiencing homelessness who camp out in forest lands. The shelter announced Monday it’s arranging transportation services and is directing those with questions to call the facility at 928-225-2533 ext. 301.

Meanwhile, Flagstaff Mayor Paul Deasy says KN95 masks will be provided at Flagstaff City Hall today to mitigate smoke inhalation.