Arizona Wildfires Update: Crooks and Tunnel Fires

Photo: Crooks Fire

From InciWeb:

Tunnel Fire

Helicopters, crews make progress with lines around fire

Helicopters aided in fire suppression efforts today on the 20,198-acre Tunnel Fire, while crews continued making progress dowsing hotspots along the fire’s western flank near Forest Road 420 (Schultz Pass Road) and around Timberline Estates and Wupatki Trail subdivisions.

In addition, hand crews continued establishing handline on the southern edge of the fire east of the Pinnacle Peak 345KV powerline and on the north edge of the fire below and east of O’Leary Peak. They will continue looking for opportunities to extend these fire lines to the east.

“Even though we haven’t declared a percentage of containment on this fire yet, there has been a lot of work, progress, and investment on line construction around many parts of the Tunnel Fire,” said Deputy Incident Commander Shelby Erickson. “However, we won’t be declaring areas with line around them as ‘contained’ until we’re confident the line will hold during the forecasted high and shifting winds through the next few days.”

Windy conditions are expected to continue into Friday with a slight chance of moisture and higher humidity to accompany Friday’s winds. Saturday and Sunday, winds are forecasted to be up to 20 mph, but coming out of the northwest and northeast, that could potentially push embers out of the fire to the south and west.

The Coconino National Forest has instituted a Forest Closure Order for the area affected by the Tunnel Fire.   Current firefighting resources on scene include 371 firefighters, nine 20-person hand crews, five dozers, 30 engines, one air attack plane, two Type 1 helicopters, and one Type 3 helicopter. A Type 1 Incident Management Team began arriving today and will be supporting current fire suppression efforts into the future.

U.S. Highway 89 is still closed from near milepost 425 (Campbell Road intersection) to 445, but officials are assessing conditions daily and may reopen it before the weekend. These decisions will be based on weather conditions that drive fire activity and whether it is safe for motorists to travel this stretch of highway.

Information about evacuations, structures that have been burned, and when people might be able to return is handled by Coconino County, which is posting updates online via their Coconino County Tunnel Fire page. The County has also established a Coconino County Tunnel Fire Call Center at 928-679-8525 that the public can call with questions.

All information regarding current firefighting efforts and the direction and activity of the fire is regularly updated on the Tunnel Fire Inciweb page at https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/8068/

Date reported: April 17, 2022
Cause: Under investigation.
Origin: 14 miles northeast of Flagstaff.
Current size: 20,198 acres
Current closures: U.S. Highway 89 is closed from milepost 425 to 4435. Conditions are being assessed daily to determine when it is safe for the highway to open for travel. Coconino National Forest has instituted a Forest Closure Order for the area affected by the Tunnel Fire.
Evacuation information: Please visit the Coconino County Emergency Management page for the Tunnel Fire at https://www.coconino.az.gov/2894/Tunnel-Fire. The Coconino County Tunnel Fire Call Center can be reached as 928-679-8525.

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Crooks Fire

Current as of 4/21/2022, 7:30:51 PM
Incident Type: Wildfire
Cause: Undetermined
Date of Origin: Monday April 18th, 2022 approx. 10:00 AM
Location: 11 miles south of Prescott Arizona
Incident Commander: Rocky Opliger, CIIMT 4
Coordinates: 34.403 latitude, -112.426 longitude

Current Situation
Total Personnel: 359
Size: 2,356 Acres
Fuels Involved: Timber (Litter and Understory), Chaparral

Significant Events
Fire activity remained active with minimal growth. Large diameter dead and downed fuels continued to burn. High winds continue to be a mitigating factor in potential fire growth through at least Friday.

Southern California Interagency Incident Management Team 4 assumed command of the Crooks Fires at 6:00 pm on April 20. Team 4 promptly held a community meeting.  To view the recording of the Crooks Fire Community Meeting visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gqsH4tAFh2E.  We would like to thank the community last night for the patience as we experienced technical difficulties.

Increased fire activity and growth has resulted has firefighters implementing point protection where applicable and safe.  Structure assessment activities are progressing in the communities in the immediate fire area.  Spotting and fire spread to the west, north and northeast has resulted in firefighters identifying options ahead of the main fire, looking at roads and other natural features to limit fires spread with the use of containment lines.

The fire is burning in continuous thick, dry, dead, and down fuels in very rugged terrain.  Erratic winds and fire behavior is making conditions hazardous for firefighters.  Firefighter and public safety is the number one objective, firefighters are being directed to not put themselves in situations where the risks are high, and probability of success is low. The consistent message from leaders to firefighters is “Nothing is worth you getting hurt”.

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