Morning Rundown: Tuesday, July 13

Jul 13, 2021

It’s Tuesday, July 13. State flags will fly at half-staff today to commemorate Jeff Piechura and Matthew Miller — the two men died in a plane crash Saturday while fighting a fire near Wikieup. The Cedar Basin Fire is now 75% contained. 

Navajo Council Member Calls For Adjustment Of Water Resources Amid Shortage 

Several chapters on the Navajo Nation endured water shortages late last month due to low water levels and a shutdown from the Navajo Tribal Utility Authority, according to Council Delegate Elmer Begay. 

Among the communities in northeastern Arizona were the Dilkon and Teesto chapters. Begay says the NTUA shut area waterlines down to refill the supply. He adds it’s the result of long-lasting area drought and says he’s asked the tribal water department to consider pausing commercial water leases to construction companies to further protect residential use. 

“I believe that through traditional methodology, in conjunction with the establishment of new infrastructure, we can begin finding answers to the drought,” Begay said in a statement.

The majority of Navajo, Apache and Coconino counties remain in a state of exceptional drought, according to the National Drought Mitigation Center.

Elements, Buzzard Fires Active

A lightning-caused fire north of Kingman and six miles east of Chloride has expanded to 1,300 acres with no containment reported, according to the Bureau of Land Management. Homes near Vock Canyon have entered set status for potential evacuation, and three ranches have been evacuated, per the Mohave County Sheriff’s Office. The fire started within Elements Canyon, where the BLM reports rocky terrain has presented a challenge for dozens of personnel.

A lightning-caused fire has also grown five miles south of Ponderosa Park and east of Wilhoit. The Buzzard Fire has reached 100 acres, prompting the closure of multiple forest service roads, though no immediate threat has been reported. 

Gila County Says Post-Fire Scam Circulating

Gila County Sheriff’s officials say they’ve received information about a circulating phone scam attempting to collect money in the wake of area wildfires. The county warned of a scam in which a caller attempts to obtain money under the guise of assisting residents in Miami after the Telegraph and Mescal fires burned more than 252,000 combined acres last month. Officials say the caller is not affiliated with Gila County.

 

County Braces For Precipitation, Flood Risk 

Sandbags are available for residents north of the Health Services Building in Flagstaff as the National Weather Service predicts an uptick this week in monsoon activity, according to Coconino County officials.

The county is forecasting a flood risk in the area of the Museum Fire burn scar along with communities downstream. A county spokesperson advised area residents to gather enough emergency supplies for a 72-hour period for potential shelter-in-place.

A Flash Flood Watch will be effective this afternoon into late Tuesday night for Oak Creek Canyon and lower elevations of Yavapai County, along with Sycamore Canyon, where forest service officials say high flood risk is present due to the Rafael Fire.

Ducey Cuts Off Federal Unemployment Benefits, Refills AZ Fund 

An executive order went into effect this weekend stopping Arizona residents from receiving federal unemployment benefits. Ducey signed the order in May, saying the decision would incentivize Arizonans to return to the workforce. Those eligible for unemployment benefits within the state will now receive a weekly maximum rate of $240 under Arizona’s unemployment insurance program. It’s one of the lowest rates in the country.

Ducey on Monday deposited nearly $760 million of federal funding into an Arizona trust fund for unemployment insurance. The funds come from the Biden administration’s American Rescue Plan; Ducey says the move will protect businesses from tax increases.