Tunnel Fire morning update, Friday, April 22, 2022: excessive wind expected Friday as crews continue to make progress, evacuations remain in place
TUNNEL FIRE FIRST DAMAGE ASSESSMENT
In a statement Thursday night, the Coconino County Sheriff’s Office said deputies have conducted preliminary evaluations of the Tunnel Fire burn area northeast of Flagstaff.
Approximately 109 properties were impacted by the fire, including 30 residences that were burned and 24 properties with outbuildings destroyed. The owners of the residential structures have been notified of the loss.
EVACUATION ORDER EXAMINED, KEPT IN PLACE
Current evacuation orders remain in place until further notice. County officials have deemed it unsafe to allow residents back into the evacuated area at this time.
There is still active fire and firefighting in the Timberline neighborhood, as well as open and potentially dangerous utilities.
Erratic winds are in the forecast Friday and Saturday, which also played a part in the decision to keep evacuation orders in place, according to Coconino County officials.
Information about evacuations, structures that have been burned, and when people might be able to return is handled by Coconino County, which is posting updates online via their Coconino County Tunnel Fire page.
The County has also established a Tunnel Fire Call Center at for people who may have questions about their property and when they might be able to return. That number is 928-679-8525.
THURSDAY FIREFIGHTING SYNOPSIS
Officials with the Coconino National Forest say firefighting crews made progress Thursday establishing lines on the more than 20,000 acre Tunnel Fire.
Helicopters were able to assist fire suppression efforts after being grounded earlier in the week because of high winds.
Crews also made progress putting out hotspots on the fire’s western edge near Shultz Pass Road (Forest Service Road 420), Timberline Estates and Wupatki Trail subdivisions. Ground crews established more handline on the southern edge of the fire east of the Pinnacle Peak 345KV powerline and on the north edge below and east of O’Leary Peak. Forest officials say they will continue trying to extend these lines to the east.
WIND AND CONTAINMENT
The National Weather Service is calling for strong, Critical Fire Weather winds Friday and a slight chance for rain and snow showers, as well as higher humidity. A High Wind Warning is in effect until at least 8 p.m. Friday. Forecasters say gusts in excess of 60 mph are possible.
In a press release Thursday night, Tunnel Fire Deputy Incident Commander Shelby Erickson said there is no declaration of containment yet, but, “there has been a lot of work, progress, and investment on line construction around many parts of the Tunnel Fire.”
Erickson added that containment won’t be declared until fire managers are “confident the line will hold during the forecasted high and shifting winds through the next few days.”
The Coconino National Forest has implemented a Forest Closure Order for the area affected by the Tunnel Fire. An interactive map and other Tunnel Fire and evacuation information can be found at: www.coconino.az.gov/2894/Tunnel-Fire.