KNAU's Morning Rundown and Fire Updates: Tuesday, June 29
It’s Tuesday, June 29. Precipitation is expected this week — with showers and thunderstorms forecast across northern Arizona. Chances for rain will increase this afternoon, per the National Weather Service.
Rafael Fire Improvement Reported, Nears 60% Containment
The Rafael Fire has reached 78,708 acres with 59% containment, the fire’s Incident Management Team reported Tuesday morning. The IMT is reporting progress; crews on Monday worked to contain the fire’s progression north.
Garland Prairie North and South, along with residents near Bear Mountain, Bill Grey Road, and Forest Service Road 535 have been downgraded from “set” to “ready” status.
Loy Ranch near Sedona has been downgraded to “set status.” Flagstaff-area communities west of I-17 and south of I-40 including University Heights and Kachina Village remain on “ready” status. Evacuation orders remain in place only for Sycamore Canyon.
Light to moderate smoke impacts are possible today in Prescott, Camp Verde, Cottonwood, and Sedona. A community meeting is scheduled tomorrow at 6:00 p.m.
Personnel will be prepared for possible lightning in coming days, according to the Incident Management Team.
Backbone Fire Containment Increases
Containment has also improved on the Backbone Fire west of Strawberry and Pine — it’s at 40,855 acres and 64% contained, according to data from the Bureau of Land Management.
Strawberry and Pine remain in “set” status. Nearby road closures remain in effect.
Personnel have been assigned to monitor the fire’s perimeter for remaining hot spots, according to the fire’s Incident Management Team. Possible light to moderate smoke impacts are forecast today in Strawberry, Pine and Camp Verde.
Flood Risk Looms As Fires Burn
Yavapai County officials are warning of post-wildfire flood risks as the Rafael and Backbone fires burn. County spokesperson David McAtee says flooding could be more likely along the Verde River, Fossil Creek and Sycamore Canyon. A burn scar east of Cornville is also at a flood risk due to the Cornville fire, now 100% contained.
Residential structures within Yavapai County are automatically subscribed to flood insurance. County officials say sandbag locations will be established by Yavapai County Emergency Management to help divert flood waters.
Ahead Of Fall Semester, NAU Releases New COVID-19 Guidelines
Northern Arizona University continues roll out plans for its return to an in-person semester this coming fall.
NAU President José Luis Cruz Rivera says the university encourages — but will not require — vaccinations against COVID-19. Masks will be recommended for indoor locations, and will only be mandatory on the university’s public transit system. Required testing will occur in the event of an outbreak. During the previous semester, NAU mandated random COVID-19 testing and required face coverings in shared spaces.
The newer regulations come after Gov. Doug Ducey issued an executive order prohibiting public universities from requiring COVID-19 tests and masks for unvaccinated students. More than 1,400 positive COVID-19 tests were reported at NAU during the spring 2021 semester according to university data.
No Delta Variant Reported By Coconino County
A weekly pop-up clinic for COVID-19 vaccinations is slated tomorrow evening at Flagstaff’s Heritage Square. An additional pop-up is on tap Saturday afternoon at Ponderosa Fire District Station 81 in Parks.
More than half of Coconino County’s population has received a vaccine, though weekly administration rates remain low compared to previous months. Nearly 64% of Page has received a dose, along with nearly 63% of Grand Canyon communities and more than 47% of Flagstaff, according to county data released June 18. Latino residents remain underrepresented in the county’s vaccination rates.
As of June 18, no case of the delta variant has been reported within Coconino County.