Strong winds, dry air propel Tunnel Fire in Northern Arizona


Currently, the department reports only 3% of the Tunnel Fire is considered contained.

Strong winds and dry air currents from the north and northeast have hampered the efforts of firefighters to gain control, fire managers explained in a Saturday news release, adding crews were being repositioned to respond.

Bulldozers and ground crews were working to build fire lines to halt or slow the fire’s advance, officials said.

As of Saturday morning, Coconino County recorded 334 personnel on the scene with resources including 18 engines, nine crews, five bulldozers, three helicopters and one air attack plane.

The blaze started Sunday just north of Flagstaff. At least two dozen buildings have been destroyed, officials said, and residents of hundreds of homes near Flagstaff were ordered to evacuate earlier this week.

The cause of the blaze is still under investigation, and US Highway 89 remains closed from milepost 425 to 445.

Parts of the Coconino National Forest are also closed, according to the US Forest Service.
The forest service advised drivers to not take Forest Road 244A to avoid the closure of US 89. “Maps are redirecting people around the fire using Forest Service roads, but those roads are UNSAFE and blocked off,” the agency tweeted.

State of emergency in effect

A state of emergency in Coconino County declared by Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey Thursday remains in effect.

An estimated 2,068 people live in the evacuation area, Patrice Horstman, chair of the Coconino County Board of Supervisors, said Wednesday. “From this, 766 households have been evacuated,” along with more than 1,000 animals, Horstman said.
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The emergency declaration means officials can provide needed resources to impacted communities to “respond to and recover from the fire’s destruction,” Ducey said in a news release.

“As strong winds fuel fires across Arizona, we are doing everything we can to keep Arizonans safe,” the governor said. He went on to urge residents to “follow the guidance of fire officials, stay safe and respond to any evacuation notices.”

“We will continue to monitor the situation and deploy additional resources as necessary,” Ducey said.

CNN’s Paradise Afshar and Steve Almasy contributed to this report.

Quoted from Various Sources

Published for: The Bloggers Briefing