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Crews fighting the Crooks Fire face heavy winds and dry conditions

Crooks Fire
Ansgar Mitchell/Inciweb
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A helicopter flies over the Crooks Fire burning south of Prescott near Mt. Union on Mon, April 18, 2022.

A wildfire south of Prescott has triggered evacuations of some small communities. Heavy winds and very dry conditions have created critical fire weather throughout the region. Officials Tuesday morning said it had grown to 750 acres.

The Crooks Fire was first reported Monday and is burning in rugged terrain through brush, ponderosa pine and ample dead and down forest fuel. Last night firefighters conducted burnout operations along Forest Road 261 to try to prevent the flames from progressing toward the communities of Potato Patch and Walker.

"Our winds predominantly come out of the south-southwest, which means it’s going to push that fire to the north and the northeast, so we really want to try to focus our efforts up there on the north end of the fire to try and keep it from going into those other communities," says Prescott National Forest spokesperson Debbie Maneely.

The National Weather Service has issued a red flag warning with gusts of up to 50 miles an hour possible along with very low humidity. Fire managers have ordered air tankers and will conduct water drops with helicopters in the meantime.

Several road and area closures have been issued and officials are urging the public to stay away from the area. A type 3 federal incident management team will take command of the fire this evening.

The Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office has issued Go evacuation orders for residents near Mount Union, Kippa Camp, Look Out Mountain, Mt. Tritle, Potato Patch Breezy Pines and Walker Road south of Lynx Lake.

Hopper’s Retreat, Evan’s Cabin, Potato Patch, Lower Wolf Creek, Groom Creek and the Groom Creek Camps are in pre-evacuation, or Set status; and Poland Junction is in Ready status. A shelter for evacuees has been set up at the Findlay Toyota Center in Prescott.

For the most up to date evacuation information, see facebook.com/yavapaicountysheriff.

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.