Tunnel Fire near Flagstaff at 21,164 acres, now 15% containment

The Tunnel Fire burning 14 miles northeast of Flagstaff remained stable Monday night at 21,215 acres. Containment increased to 20%.

The blaze, burning across US 89, was reported shortly before 4:30 p.m. on April 17, and its cause is being investigated, according to InciWeb, a government website that tracks wildfires.

Many areas near the fire remain under the “fixed” status, which means residents must be prepared to evacuate

The Coconino County Sheriff’s Office reported late Thursday that about 109 properties were affected by the fire, including 30 burned residences and 24 properties with destroyed outbuildings, forestry officials said.

On Thursday, Governor Doug Ducey declared a state of emergency to help communities affected by the fire. More than 750 homes have been evacuated, according to a statement released by his office. The emergency declaration will make $200,000 from the general fund available to Arizona Emergency Management Division Director Allen Clark. The Coconino County Board of Supervisors declared a state of emergency on Tuesday, allowing them to spend emergency funds and seek support from the state of Arizona.

According to the Arizona Department of Transportation, US 89 reopened around 12:30 p.m. Sunday after being closed for about five days due to the fire.

Where is the Tunnel Fire burning?

A tunnel fire burns near Flagstaff on April 25, 2022.

The fire is burning northeast of Flagstaff across US 89, east of San Francisco Mountain, northwest of the Hundred Dollar Hill tourist attraction, west of Black Bottom Crater and south from the top of Deadman Mesa mountain.

The Tunnel Fire covered a northwest portion of Black Bill Park and is burning in Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument. The fire also reached Black Mountain.

The western part of the tunnel fire burns through part of the scar from the Schultz Fire, which burned more than 15,000 acres of forest and was the largest wildfire in Arizona in 2010. Fuels that the Schultz fire left behind are more likely to help spread the fires again.

Fire outlook: wind, critical weather conditions for fires

On Monday, firefighters continued to man the fire perimeter on the west side, searching for hot spots and assessing hazards in structures, according to InciWeb.

On Monday, 420 firefighters were working on the blaze.

Near-critical fire weather conditions will return from Tuesday, Inciweb says, and will continue through Thursday.

“Temperature, wind and humidity levels are near local thresholds for significant fire growth and behavior. Windy and shifting winds can contribute to rapid spread rates,” the site says.

Higher wind speeds are expected to increase early this week, with stronger winds expected Tuesday through Thursday. Wind gusts could reach 30 mph, according to the weather service.​​​​​

Information for residents returning home after tunnel fire evacuation

Late Saturday, all previously evacuated neighborhoods were restored to “defined” condition, allowing residents to return to their homes.

“Residents returning to the area are reminded that conditions and status of evacuation levels may change at any time depending on fire behavior,” Coconino County National Forest officials said in a statement. .

According to the Coconino County Situational Awareness Viewer, the areas that should be prepared for possible evacuation orders are:

  • South of Campbell Avenue, west of US 89.
  • South of Campbell Avenue, east of US 89.
  • Hills of antelopes.
  • Lunar crater.

Neighborhoods went from “go” to “set” status as of Sunday morning, including Timberline, Fernwood, Wupatki Trails, Girls Ranch Road and Lenox Park.

Evacuated residents are asked to report in person to the North Parking Lot of the Silver Saddle Trading Post, located at 9001 NUS 89 in Flagstaff. Residents will be required to present identification or other documentation proving their address before being permitted entry. Once the registration process is complete, residents will be able to access their properties.

The Coconino County Sheriff’s Office and the National Forest said as residents return, people should be aware of the expected “byproducts” of the wildfire.

“Examples of hazards include fire-weakened trees that may fall without warning, loss of ground vegetation may loosen rolling debris and rocks and stump ash pits may appear benign but hold hot ashes for a some time and can cause serious burns if they intervene,” forestry officials said in a statement on Sunday.

“If you observe any issues with unsafe trees or structures, we ask that you contact the appropriate agency on their non-emergency numbers to resolve these issues,” the Coconino County Sheriff’s Office said.

Those who are unsure of an evacuation notice or think it might be a scam can call law enforcement to confirm evacuation steps. The Coconino County Sheriff’s Office asked to call his non-emergency number at 928-774-4523 and the Flagstaff Police Department at 928-774-4114.

The National Forest has asked people not to call 911 about smoke or fires unless they are outside the fire perimeter or appear threatening. If you are unsure, call 911.

USPS holds mail from residents of tunnel fire area, Coconino County said in a tweet. Residents must report to the post office at 2400 Postal Blvd with photo ID to pick up mail. FedEx also holds packages at 5700 S. Pulliam Dr. Call 928-213-8234 or 928-864-9776 for more information.

How can I give or receive help?

NAU help

Northern Arizona University President José Luis Cruz Rivera announced Friday morning that the university will provide immediate housing, meal or emergency fund assistance to all loggers, according to a tweet from the university.

All students need to do is email president@nau.edu with information. The NAU leadership team is ready to assist any student in need.

Help for disaster-stricken residents

People who have been affected by the fire and need help can visit the Coconino County Community Assistance Center located at 2695 E. Industrial Drive in Flagstaff from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Grocery cards are available. by filling out a form.

To apply for assistance and resources, including shelter, pet food, meal distribution, hygiene items, and financial assistance, residents can complete an online intake form at address https://www.coconino.az.gov/help.

According to District 2 Supervisor Jeronimo Vasquez, a behavioral crisis line is also available to residents 24/7 at 877-756-4090.

Evacuees can find more information on safety protocols and guidance on how to dispose of hazardous waste and spoiled food upon their return by visiting https://www.coconino.az.gov/2900/Re- Entry-Information.

For those who want to help those affected by the tunnel fire, Centraide and Salvation Army accept donations.

The Salvation Army flagpole accepts the following items:

  • Clothing of different sizes (men, women and children)
  • Food for small animals
  • Personal Care/Hygiene Items
  • Blankets and bedding

Drop off donated items at The Salvation Army Flagstaff, 3815 E Huntington Street Flagstaff.

To donate to United Way of Northern Arizona, text UWNARESPONSE to 41444 or donate via the United Way website.

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