SHOW LOW – Fire crews battled unforgiving weather conditions as fires sprang up and others continued to roll across northern Arizona yesterday.
State of Emergency
The Navajo County Board of Supervisors declared a state of emergency yesterday, due to fire endangering life and property.
“This declaration allows the county to streamline the procurement process to purchases supplies and materials quickly, and it also makes it possible for the county to seek reimbursement from state or federal sources for some of the costs to help respond to the fire,” the county stated in a post on Facebook.
West Chev Fire
The West Chev Fire has caused the Woods Canyon Lake to be evacuated. The lightning-caused fire has now burned 1,000 acres and is located 13 miles from Forest Lakes near Heber.
The lightning-caused Wyrick Fire located about a mile north of Heber has burned about 5,700 acres as of this morning. Due to the heat and dry conditions, the fire remained active on all fronts and is still at 0% containment. Predominate winds out of the west southwest, pushed the fire mostly to the east. A Type 2 Incident Management Team is scheduled to assume management of the fire tomorrow.
Dry Valley Fire
The Dry Valley Fire sprung up Monday 1.5 miles due west of Wagon Wheel near Show Low. It burned through 5.8 acres and is currently completely lined. Multi-agency crews responded quickly and all air resources have been released.
The Rafael Fire was discovered on June 18. The result of passing predominantly dry thunderstorms. The fire is located approximately 4 miles north of Perkinsville east of Highway 89. Strong westerly winds in combination with terrain, and low humidity caused increased fire behavior today.
The Arizona Central West Zone Type 3 Incident Management Team will assume management of the Rafael Fire, in addition to the fires being managed as the five lightning- caused fires located west of Highway 89, north of Paulden, known as the Rock Butte Fires.
Air and ground resources are responding to a new wildfire reported seven miles west of Clint’s Well on the north side of West Clear Creek. The 10-20 acre Snake Fire was reported at 2:36 p.m. today by the Apache Maid Lookout. The cause of the wildfire is still unknown.
The Backbone fire, which is located about 12 miles west of Pine and Strawberry has burned 24,198 acres as of this morning with 0% containment.
Firefighters continued to monitor the fire progression around the both the western and eastern flanks and continued to prepare containment features to support today’s operations.
Crews and heavy equipment reinforced control features to the south and west of Strawberry and Pine. Aviation resources focused on keeping fire from moving into Deadman Mesa and Hardscrabble Canyon.
Extreme fire behavior is expected with growth to the north and east.
APS is working closely with the agencies responding to the Backbone Fire. While a disruption in service is not expected, crews continue to closely observe fire behavior should a need arise to protect firefighters and/or preserve electrical infrastructure. Customers can visit aps.com/outagecenter for information on ways to prepare for an outage and to view the APS outage map.
Evacuation orders were issued for the communities of Pine and Strawberry. Residents and visitors should contact their county or visit ein.az.gov/ready-set-go for information regarding evacuation status.
Closures and evacuations for the Wyrick Fire
The Wyrick Fire has advanced toward Heber, and reached a starting point for setting evacuations into motion in Heber and Overgaard.
Areas in GO Status: Antelope Valley, Despain Ranch and Heber/Overgaard North of 260 AND 277
Areas in READY Status: Overgaard south of Highway 260, High Country Pines in Heber, and Kendall Ranch / Camp Ponderosa
Areas in SET Status: All areas in Heber not identified as Ready or Go status, Chevelon Ranches and Retreat, Communities in Overgaard south of Highway 277 and North of Highway 260.
Closures and Evacuations for the Rafael Fire
Highway 277 southbound will be shut down at the Y to Snowflake and Taylor. The northbound lane will remain open for evacuees.
Highway 260 is shut down in both directions, in and out of Heber/Overgaard. Only evacuees will be allowed travel in this area.
Coconino County and the Coconino County Sheriff's Office has ordered the immediate evacuation of areas around Sycamore Canyon and areas south of Forest Service Road 535 off Forest Service Road 231. Due to the Rafael Fire, all areas south of 1-40, west of I-17, including University Heights, Kachina Village, Forest Highlands, Pine Dell, and Woody Mountain Road are now in SET status. Residents should begin preparing for a possible Go order to evacuate. This is not yet an evacuation order.
More emergency closure, evacuations and no drone zone
A temporary drone flight restriction remains in place over the Backbone Fire.
Portions of State routes 260 and 87 are closed due to the Backbone Fire, according to the Arizona Department of Transportation.
SR 260 is closed in both directions between Camp Verde at milepost 227 and State Route 87 at milepost 252.
SR 87 is closed in both directions between Houston Mesa Road in Payson at milepost 255 and Lake Mary Road at milepost 290.
Telegraph Fire continues to close State Route 77
The southbound lanes are closed at US 70, just past Globe; the northbound lanes are closed at State Route 177 in Winkelman. Residents of Dripping Springs are allowed to travel north on SR 77 to their homes. All other traffic is prohibited in both directions.
Bear Fire closes US 191 south of Alpine, between mileposts 195 and 225.
There is no estimated time to reopen the highways.
The Fossil Creek recreation area is closed due to risk of wildfire, which includes Waterfall Trail, Irving/Flume, Tonto Bench, Fossil Creek Bridge, Homestead, Sally May, Purple Mountain, Bob Bear Trail, and Mazatzal.
An emergency area fire closure has been issued to protect public health and safety from fire activities and includes Tonto, Coconino, and Prescott National Forest lands, roads, and trails in the area of the Backbone Fire.
Fire danger remains extreme, so stay updated and be at the ready.