Flagstaff wildfire forces evacuations, steadily grows
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) — Evacuations are in effect in parts of northern Arizona as a wildfire about 6 miles (9 kilometers) north of Flagstaff steadily grew Sunday, authorities said.
Coconino National Forest officials said the wildfire was reported at 10:15 a.m. by a fire lookout. The fire has produced a noticeable plume of smoke.
Coconino County Sheriff’s officials said the Arizona Snowbowl and people living in the area of the west Schultz Pass Road area must evacuate. People living in Doney Park and the area near Mt. Elden should be prepared.
Euelda King and her family evacuated their home for the second time this year because of wildfires. She hadn’t settled back in from a springtime blaze before leaving again Sunday, this time able to grab photographs and clothing she didn’t get earlier.
“Here we go again,” she said.
The family of 11 is planning to stay at the Navajo Nation casino, which is offering assistance to tribal members who have evacuated.
The family was waiting in a parking lot ahead of road closure signs, watching smoke billow through the air and aircraft flying overhead.
“The winds are high, and I think they’re going to have a little bit of a battle with it,” she said.
Wind gusts were sweeping the smoke through Schultz Pass toward Doney Park and authorities said recreationists were being told to leave immediately, especially those in the Schultz Pass area.
American Red Cross Arizona has opened a shelter at Sinagua Middle School for residents who have evacuated.
“With this thing going as fast as it is, it could get much closer, of course hoping it doesn’t,” King said.
Authorities said one hotshot firefighting crew was headed to the wildfire along with a bulldozer, one water tender, three patrol units and six engines.
They said four air tankers and one helicopter also has been ordered along with an Incident Management Team that is scheduled to being arriving over the next few days.
The Arizona Department of Transportation has closed U.S. Route 89. The department said in a Twitter post that there is no estimated time to reopen the road.
The cause of the wildfire wasn’t immediately known.
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