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Rafael Fire Grows To 36,000 Acres As Type 1 Team Takes Command Of Firefighting

Yavapai County Sheriff's Office

The Rafael Fire burning southwest of Flagstaff has grown to 36,000 acres with no containment yet reported. It comes as a federal incident management team has assumed command amid continued extreme wildfire conditions. KNAU’s Ryan Heinsius reports.



The lightning-caused Rafael Fire continues to burn through rugged canyon country in drought-stressed vegetation. Officials say it’s crossed Sycamore Canyon and moved on top of the Mogollon Rim, and it’s expected to burn into the Red Rock Secret Mountain Wilderness.

It’s one of several lightning-caused wildfires that ignited last week amid very hot, dry and windy conditions.

A type 1 incident management team took command of firefighting operations this morning. Crews will continue to establish containment lines using ground and air personnel and are preparing for firing operations.

Meanwhile, the Coconino, Kaibab and Apache-Sitgreaves national forests have closed to all visitors because of the high fire danger, and the Prescott will follow suit Friday. Arizona state trust lands will also close and many wooded areas in Flagstaff are now off limits to the public.

The Coconino County Sheriff’s Office issued a “Go” evacuation order for the South Garland Prairie community Thursday, and downgraded several communities in and near Flagstaff from “Set” to “Ready” status.

Ryan joined KNAU's newsroom in 2013. He covers 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 frequent contributor to NPR.
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