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Rafael Fire Remains Very Active As It Burns Through Sycamore Canyon

Yavapai County Sheriff's Office

Officials say the Rafael Fire burning southwest of Flagstaff could have grown to as many as 35,000 acres Tuesday with no containment yet reported. Crews, however, weren’t able to generate an accurate infrared map because of cloud cover Tuesday night. KNAU’s Ryan Heinsius reports.

Officials say the Rafael Fire was very active Tuesday on its northern and eastern edges. It burned through the rugged and steep Sycamore and Tule canyons to Casner Mountain and Sycamore Point. Aircraft and hand crews continue to prepare control lines ahead of a type 1 incident management team taking command of the wildfire Thursday morning.

Fire managers say lower temperatures, increased relative humidity and the chance of precipitation is helping firefighters, but gusty winds could hamper their efforts and lightning could spark new wildfires.

Several communities in and around Flagstaff remain on “Set” notice for a possible evacuation. Officials have also ordered evacuations for some rural ranches west of Sedona.

Meanwhile, the Prescott National Forest will fully close to visitors Friday morning. It follows the Wednesday closures of the Coconino and Kaibab as well as the Apache-Sitgreaves national forests Thursday because of extreme fire danger.

Ryan Heinsius joined the KNAU newsroom as executive producer in 2013 and was named news director and managing editor in 2024. As a reporter, he has covered a broad range of stories from local, state and tribal politics to education, economy, energy and public lands issues, and frequently interviews internationally known and regional musicians. Ryan is an Edward R. Murrow Award winner and a Public Media Journalists Association Award winner, and a frequent contributor to NPR's Morning Edition, All Things Considered and national newscast.
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