Morning Fire Updates: Friday, June 25
It’s Friday, June 25.
Moderate smoke impacts are expected this morning in Sedona and Cottonwood and throughout the day in Flagstaff due to nearby fires, according to the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality. The Incident Management Team for the Rafael Fire southwest of Flagstaff says more smoke can be expected in coming days as crews burn nearby fuel to hinder further growth.
ADEQ also predicts moderate to high smoke today in the Verde Valley, and light to moderate smoke throughout the day in Strawberry and Pine as evacuation orders remain effective due to the Backbone Fire. The National Weather Service is forecasting possible precipitation beginning Sunday in northern Arizona.
Rafael Fire Grows; Burnout Operations Continue
The Rafael Fire burning southwest of Flagstaff has reached 39, 641 acres with no containment, according to a Friday morning update from the lightning-caused fire’s Incident Management Team. The IMT says more smoke can be expected in coming days as crews burn nearby fuel in an attempt to hinder further growth.
IMT Fire Behavior Analyst Dan Pearson says humidity aided firefighting efforts Thursday, and that the fire is moving toward several fire scars to the east — a sign that movement could be delayed.
“As firefighters, normally, we like to see fire scars, because ... the fire behavior's going to be reduced,” Pearson said at a community meeting Thursday evening.
Pearson also says strong winds today could push the fire north.
Evacuations: Garland Prairie South On “Go”
Coconino County issued evacuation orders on Thursday for Garland Prairie South — a community south of Parks and east of Flagstaff. The evacuation applies to those living off Boy Scout Camp Road, Arbor Lane, Thomas Loop Road, Leisure Drive, and other area streets.
A shelter has been established at the Sinagua School in Flagstaff.
Forest officials say those who need assistance evacuating can contact the Coconino County Sheriff’s Office. Residents can dial 928-679-8647 to reach Coconino County’s call center established for the fire. The county is also encouraging residents to sign up for emergency notifications at coconino.az.gov/ready. The notifications are available in Spanish among other languages.
Evacuations: Flagstaff Communities Downgraded To “Ready”
Multiple Flagstaff and nearby communities have been downgraded from “set” to “ready” status in evacuation preparation. The announcement applies to Kachina Village, University Heights and Forest Highland among other areas south of I-40 and west of I-17.
“Ready” status directs residents to remain aware and prepared for possible evacuation.
Areas including Camp Navajo, Garland Prairie North, Bear Mountain, Grey Ranch, and Windmill Ranch are on “set” status.
Containment Grows Slightly For Backbone Fire:
Evacuations remain effective in Pine and Strawberry as the Backbone Fire burns west of the Gila County communities. The fire has surpassed 40,000 acres with 6% containment as 692 personnel work to contain the blaze, according to a Thursday night update from the Incident Management Team. Light rains fell on the fire yesterday; the IMT reports the fire is moving slowly northwest but remains on the east side of the Verde River.
New Public Land Restrictions Take Hold Amid Fires:
The Prescott National Forest closed to the public this morning along with state trust lands in all 15 Ariz. counties. The Kaibab, Coconino, and Apache Sitgreaves national forests closed earlier this week to mitigate further fire risk. Coconino County entered stage three fire restrictions this week. Flagstaff entered stage four restrictions, prohibiting outdoor grills and campfires among other activities. A ban on open fires and fireworks also went into effect this morning in Yavapai County.