Smoke from Whiting Knoll Fire seen along highway

A plume of smoke from a “flare up” in a pocket of heavy fuels on July 4 at the Whiting Knoll Fire.

NAVAJO & APACHE COUNTIES — Two area fires affected residents and visitors over the weekend.

On Sunday evening, the Heber-Overgaard Fire District and the Forest Service responded to the scene of the Decker Fire near the small community of Aripine.

The 3-acre fire caused the precautionary evacuation of 18 people from two different homesteads, according to Chief William “Dee” McCluskey.

The dozer lines, trucks and personnel got out pretty quick to do structure protection.

“For a long, holiday, busy, populated weekend, we did pretty well,” added Chief McCluskey.

Everybody was returned to their homes at about 5:30 p.m. without incident.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

Whiting Knoll Fire

As of Saturday, July 6 the Whiting Knoll lightning-caused wildfire north of Greer had burned about 2,280 acres and was fifty percent contained.

Whiting Knoll is in the Springerville Ranger District of the Apache Sitgreaves National Forests about midway between Vernon and Round Valley in between U.S. 60 and State Route 260. Smoke from the fire was drifting northward July 4 and could be seen for miles.

Some local roads were closed during the fire and some Navopache Electric Cooperative (NEC) customers also lost power for a time. Firefighters worked through the holiday weekend to prevent the spread of the fire.

“Today all main roads in the fire area are re-opened. Crews will monitor the fire and begin mop-up along the fire lines. This will be the final update on the Whiting Fire unless significant events occur,” a July 6 final update stated.

Reach the reporter at mleiby@wmicentral.com

Mike Leiby covers police, courts, and the towns of Snowflake and Taylor.

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