NATIONAL NEWS

Western wildfires force evacuations in Arizona, California

Jun 13, 2022, 10:27 AM | Updated: Jun 25, 2022, 8:54 pm
Pipeline Fire as seen on June 12 from Continental Country Club area. (Brady Smith/Coconino National...
Pipeline Fire as seen on June 12 from Continental Country Club area. (Brady Smith/Coconino National Forest)
(Brady Smith/Coconino National Forest)

WRIGHTWOOD, Calif. (AP) — Wildfires in Arizona and California forced evacuations as crews work to corral the blazes, authorities said.

Firefighters are responding to a wildfire about 6 miles (9.6 kilometers) north of Flagstaff, Arizona, that has forced evacuations. The Pipeline Fire was reported at 10:15 a.m. Sunday by a fire lookout, said Coconino National Forest officials.

By late that evening, it had burned up to 7.8 square miles (20.2 square kilometers).

Forest Service law enforcement arrested and charged a 57-year-old man with natural resource violations, they said, without providing further details.

The Arizona Snowbowl and people living in the west Schultz Pass Road area must evacuate, officials said.

Crews were also battling a fire in the area north of Flagstaff near Sunset Crater National Monument on Monday, U.S. Forest Service officials said.

County sheriff’s officials said residents of Alpine Ranchos were being evacuated as a precaution and deputies were going door-to-door to notify them.

They said an evacuation shelter has been set up at the Sinagua Middle School.

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 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,” King said.

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.

The American Red Cross Arizona opened a shelter at Sinagua Middle School for residents who 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 13 engines, nine crews, six prevention patrol units, three bulldozers and one water tender were involved in fighting the fire. An Incident Management Team is scheduled to arrive Monday.

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.

And in California, evacuation orders were in place Monday for remote homes near a wildfire that flared up over the weekend in mountains northeast of Los Angeles, authorities said.

The Sheep Fire broke out Saturday not far from Wrightwood near the Pacific Crest Trail in the San Gabriel Mountains, the San Bernardino County Fire Department said.

The blaze saw renewed growth Sunday afternoon and by nighttime had scorched about 1.5 square miles (3.88 square km) of pine trees and dry brush, officials said.

“Law enforcement is going door-to-door with a mandatory evacuation for Desert Front Road and Wild Horse Canyon,” according to a Sunday status report. It wasn’t clear how many people were affected.

The remainder of the mountain town of Wrightwood, with about 4,500 residents, was under an evacuation warning.

Several mountain roads were closed. The fire was just 5% contained.

To the west in Los Angeles County, firefighters quickly corralled a wildfire that erupted Sunday in foothills above Duarte. No homes were threatened.

The causes of the fires were under investigation.

Fire conditions were elevated because of warm and dry weekend weather across Southern California. Monday was expected to be cooler, but another heatwave was expected at midweek, the National Weather Service said.

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Western wildfires force evacuations in Arizona, California