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Morning Fire Updates: Thursday, June 24

Sedona Fire District

It’s Thursday, June 24. The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality is forecasting light to moderate smoke impacts in Heber, Strawberry and Pine, where ADEQ recommends residents minimize outdoor activity. Moderate smoke impacts are also expected today in Flagstaff, Sedona and Cottonwood. For smoke mitigation, the Environmental Protection Agency recommends P100 or N95 respirators marked by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.

For a breakdown of "ready, set and go" statuses for evacuation, click here.

Rafael Fire Reaches 36K Acres, No Structural Damage Or Containment

The Rafael Fire burning southwest of Flagstaff has so far scorched36,000 acres and moved into Sycamore Canyon with no containment reported. There are currently no reports of structural damage, according to a Thursday morning update from forest officials. A Type 1 Incident Management Team began work on the lightning-caused fire this morning to bolster containment efforts. David Bales — who led containment efforts on the Telegraph Fire — is the IMT’s commander. A virtual meeting from the IMT is on tap tonight at 6:00 p.m.


The Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office on Wednesday issued a “set” status for potential evacuation to the communities near Bill Gray Road, Forest Service Road 525, Forest Road 152 C, and Bear Mountain Road north of State Route 89A. Areas north of 89A in West and uptown Sedona have been placed in “ready” status. 


A “set status” for potential evacuation remains effective in the Flagstaff area communities of Kachina Village,University Heights, Mountain Dell, Pine Del,  Forest Highland, Woody Mountain Road south of I-40, Garland Prairie and Pine Aire Estates. These are not active evacuation orders, but calls for preparation. 


Flagstaff Mayor Paul Deasy called for volunteers to help gather pine needles and other potential debris in the University Heights neighborhood this morning. The city is distributing KN95 masks this week — a list of locations can be found here.


Backbone Fire Surpasses 40K Acres, Evacuation Order Expected To Continue

Credit Backbone Fire Information
Backbone Fire.


Crews are working to contain a lightning-caused fire west of Strawberry and southeast of Camp Verde. The Backbone Fire has reached 40,591 acres, according to a Thursday morning update from the Incident Management Team. 

The IMT estimated this morning that an ongoing evacuation order for Pine and Strawberry would continue for “at least another week” due to dry conditions.

Yavapai County has issued a “ready” status for potential evacuation to the communities of Beasley Flats and Verde Lakes. Parts of State Route 260 and State Route 87 remain closed per the Arizona Department of Transportation. ADOT updates can be found here.

Credit Gillian Ferris
A closed trailhead in the Kachina Village neighborhood south of Flagstaff.

Public Land Closures Spread Statewide 

State trust lands will close beginning Friday at 8:00 a.m. due to “extremely high” fire risk, according to the Department of Forestry and Fire Management. 

Tomorrow’s closure will apply to state-owned lands in all 15 counties, including state parks outside incorporated municipalities. The Apache Sitgreaves National Forest closed to the public this morning, following the Kaibab National Forest and Coconino National Forest, which both closed. The Prescott National Forest will close tomorrow at 8:00 a.m.

Updates: Snake And Wyrick Fires  

The Snake Fire burning east of Clints Well and Camp Verde has reached 76 acres in size with 20% containment, according to the latest data released Wednesday by the Coconino National Forest. Nearby communities — including Happy Jack Lodge and Clear Creek Pines One and Two — remain in “set” status for potential evacuation. Coconino County Emergency Management Director Wes Dison said during a Tuesday briefing he expected the fire to be largely contained in coming days. 

Meanwhile, the Wyrick Fire northwest of Heber-Overgaard has reached 7,452 acres with 15% containment, according to a Thursday morning update. The blaze has prompted evacuation orders for northern parts of Heber and Overgaard, along with Antelope Valley and Despain Ranch. Other nearby communities remain in ready and set status for potential evacuation.

Find updates for the Snake Fireand Wyrick Fire here.

An additional fire is now burning about 13 miles away from Forest Lakes at 400 acres with no containment as of Thursday morning. A cause for the West Chev Fire has not been reported. Evacuation orders have been issued for Woods Canyon Lake.

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