Morning Rundown: Friday, July 2
It’s Friday, July 2.
With Rain, Lightning-Caused Fires Remain Concern
Crews responded to three lightning-caused fires in northern Arizona on Wednesday, according to the Prescott National Forest.
The Grief Fire has been confirmed at 1/4 of an acre about six miles east of Cherry; the Yellow Fire is burning at 113 acres northeast of Dugas. The Tiger Fire reached 1,700 acres about 11 miles east of Crown King, with no containment, according to PNF estimates released this morning.
Personnel have been assigned to monitor and work to contain hot spots according to fire officials. Area national forests remain closed until there is enough precipitation to lessen fire danger.
Updates To Slow On Rafael Fire As Containment Improves
The Rafael Fire has so far burned 78,709 acres and is 89% contained, according to an Incident Management Team update released Thursday. All area communities have been downgraded to “ready” status for potential evacuation.
The IMT says archeologists have scanned the Sycamore Canyon area to analyze the safety of Indigenous cultural sites amid the fire conditions. Updates are expected to slow on the fire as crews gain further containment. Coconino County has deactivated its information hotline for the fire, though members of the public can continue to contact a Rafael Fire Public Information Line affiliated with the Incident Management Team.
Northern AZ Communities Mull Holiday Plans, Fire Risks
Northern Arizona communities are grappling with the heightened fire risk as the Fourth of July approaches.
The city of Prescott and Prescott Valley will hold public fireworks displays this weekend. The town of Tusayan, meanwhile, will hold a drone light show Sunday to comply with fire restrictions and to reduce chemical pollution near the Grand Canyon.
The city of Flagstaff cancelled a scheduled fireworks event as stage four fire restrictions remain effective. “Drive-up” fireworks ceremonies are on tap in Shiprock, Chinle, Tuba City and Window Rock for Navajo Nation residents as COVID-19 mandates remain effective on the reservation.
Delta Confirmed In Mohave County, Where Vaccination Rates Lag Behind State
The delta variant of COVID-19 has been confirmed in Mohave County, according to Health Director Denise Burley. The variant has been regarded as a threat by public health experts, though research is showing the Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are effective.
State data shows 36.9% of Mohave County residents have received a COVID-19 vaccine — falling below the statewide average of 49.5%.
Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez says the variant has been confirmed in the northern region of the reservation.
Coconino County Moves To New Re-Entry Phase
More pop-up COVID-19 vaccination clinics are slated this weekend in Coconino County; the county is offering doses of the Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson vaccine tomorrow in downtown Flagstaff’s Heritage Square.
A clinic is also scheduled at the Ponderosa Fire District, Station 81 tomorrow afternoon in Parks. The county has officially moved into a fourth phase of its reentry plan, opening county buildings to the public. The new phase requires unvaccinated individuals to wear masks within county buildings, while fully vaccinated individuals are not asked to wear masks with the exception of certain buildings.
More than 51% of the county population has received a vaccine, according to Coconino County data.
Flagstaff City Council Deliberates Mental Health Funding After Collision
The Flagstaff City Council expressed support this week to allocate funds for both the Flagstaff Trails Initiative and for potential mental health services. The city would use a council initiative fund.
The funding for mental health support was proposed initially for people affected by a collision in downtown Flagstaff that killed one cyclist and severely injured several others.
Mayor Paul Deasy ultimately proposed an allocation of $7,500 to the trails initiative, and $17,500 to fund one-on-one mental health services through an area non-profit.