Tunnel Fire Friday PM UPDATE: Tunnel Fire continues to burn despite rain and snow #TunnelFire

April 22nd, 2022 at 7:31 AM

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7:30 PM: FROM THE USFS & INCIWEB: Crews continued Friday building line around the now 20,924-acre Tunnel Fire northeast of Flagstaff, while battling high winds and welcoming unusual precipitation in the form of scattered rain and sporadic snow showers. Snow and rain did help douse dry grasses and keep them from igniting more easily, but precipitation levels weren’t high enough to affect large burning logs and extreme hotspots across most of the fire. High winds also resulted in drying out precipitation very quickly after it dropped. Two areas of the fire were active even with the moisture. The spot fire that began last night on 89 Mesa in the Schultz Fire burn scar grew to 500 acres today, with large down trees left over from the Schultz Fire helping keep the spot alive. Firefighters were able to create a line around the entire spot fire, but strong winds continued to cultivate dry conditions.  The second active area was in the northeast portion of the fire in the Strawberry Crater Wilderness area. This finger of the Tunnel Fire burned actively and fortunately moved out into flatter terrain and sparser fuel which is expected to slow the fire’s growth. Across the rest of the fire, bulldozers and hand crews are building line around the edge of the fire between O’Leary Peak and Black Mountain and crews continued to patrol and mop up hot spots in the Timberline Estates and Wupatki Trails subdivisions, as well as along the southern flank of the fire along Forest Road 545.

Strong shifting winds out of the north and east forecast for Saturday and Sunday are still a major concern for fire managers, who are hesitant to call certain areas contained until these wind events pass, so have stuck with a containment number of 3 percent.

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.

The Coconino National Forest has instituted a Forest Closure Order for the area affected by the Tunnel Fire. U.S. Highway 89 is still closed from near milepost 425 (Campbell Road intersection) to 445, but officials are assessing conditions daily. The reopening of the highway is dependent on fire activity and closure allows quick and safe response for firefighters. 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.
Coconino County Sheriff’s Office released a statement last night that an estimated 109 properties were impacted by the fire, including 30 residences that were burned and 24 properties with outbuildings destroyed.
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/. Media representatives can reach information officers by calling the MEDIA Line at 928-224-8306. Media representatives must leave a message if they expect a call back.   TUNNEL FIRE AT A GLANCE ·

Date reported: April 17, 2022 ·

Cause: Under investigation. ·

Origin: 14 miles northeast of Flagstaff, Doney Park. (GPS: 35.304167, -111.588611). ·

Current size: 20,924 acres. ·

Percent contained: 3% ·

Structures lost: 30 residences burned and 24 properties with outbuildings destroyed. ·

Current resources: 371 firefighters, nine 20-person hand crews, five dozers, 30 engines, one air attack plane, two Type 1 helicopters, and one Type 3 helicopter. ·

Current closures: U.S. Highway 89 is closed from milepost 425 to 445. The closure is being assessed daily to see when the road can be safely opened. 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 at 928-679-8525.

12:30 PM: A Tunnel Fire Community Meeting will be held 2:00 p.m. tomorrow, Saturday, April 23, at Sinagua Middle School, 3950 E. Butler Avenue, Flagstaff (parking information below).

This meeting is to provide an update regarding the fire conditions, potential flood risk, and evacuation status.

Representatives from the County, Sheriff’s Office, U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Weather Service, and Tunnel Fire Type 1 Incident Management Team will provide information on these topics and be available to answer questions. American Sign Language interpretation will be available at the meeting.

The meeting will also be broadcast live on the Coconino County Facebook page (www.facebook.com/coconinocounty).

People are advised to park behind the school (on the west side of Sinagua Middle Schoool). From N. 4th street, turn onto Sparrow Avenue, then enter the parking lot off Mustang Way, adjacent to the ball field. ADA parking is available. Signage will be displayed. Overflow parking will be available in the school’s east parking lot, which is entered from East Butler Avenue, 3950 East Butler Avenue. 

For any questions, please contact the Tunnel Fire Call Center at 928-679-8525. The map of the location is also available on our website at coconino.az.gov/tunnelfire.

——————————————————————————————————————–

WHO:           Residents and property owners with re-entry protocol questions and other questions about the Tunnel Fire

WHAT:         Tunnel Fire Community Meeting

WHEN:         2:00 p.m. Saturday, April 23, 2022

WHERE:       Sinagua Middle School

Park behind the school (west side)

3950 E Butler Avenue

Flagstaff, Ariz. 86004

9 am update: Additional resources are allowing firefighting efforts to expand to the east on the Tunnel Fire 14 miles northeast of Flagstaff, while firefighters wait to see if established lines around many parts of the 21,087-acre fire hold up to today’s critical fire weather and strong winds.

Click this image for a more detailed view.
Since the start of the fire, firefighting efforts have focused on protecting homes and property on the west side of the fire—namely Timberline Estates and Wupatki Trails subdivisions, as well as along Forest Road 420 (Schultz Pass Road).

Proving how challenging the weather and wind component is with this fire, last night at approximately 9 p.m. a spot fire began in Division Alpha in the area of 89 Mesa. Firefighters are working to contain the spot that is currently estimated at 100-150 acres.

With an increase in resources and arrival of the Type 1 Incident Management Team, firefighters will work to get a line around the entire fire. Firefighters will be working on constructing line near Black Mountain today, just east of O’Leary Peak and hand crews will begin constructing line in the Strawberry Crater Wilderness Area.

Though welcome rain fell this morning across many parts of the fire, strong winds forecast today and shifting winds out of the north and east forecast for Saturday and Sunday are still a major concern for fire managers. The fire is currently 21,087 acres and three percent contained. Fire managers are hesitant to call certain areas contained until these wind events pass.

The Coconino National Forest has instituted a Forest Closure Order for the area affected by the Tunnel Fire. U.S. Highway 89 is still closed from near milepost 425 (Campbell Road intersection) to 445, but officials are assessing conditions daily. The reopening of the highway is dependent on fire activity and closure allows quick and safe response for firefighters.

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.

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.

Coconino County Sheriff’s Office released a statement last night that an estimated 109 properties were impacted by the fire, including 30 residences that were burned and 24 properties with outbuildings destroyed.

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/

The media staging area has be relocated to the Old Caves trailhead parking lot on Silver Saddle Road, and media representatives can reach information officers by calling the MEDIA Line at 928-224-8306. Media representatives should leave a message for a return call.

TUNNEL FIRE OVERVIEW

Date reported: April 17, 2022

Cause: Under investigation.

Origin: 14 miles northeast of Flagstaff, Doney Park. (GPS: 35.304167, -111.588611)

Current size: 21,087 acres (decrease acreage due to more accurate mapping).

Percent contained: 3%

Structures lost: 30 residences burned and 24 properties with outbuildings destroyed.

Current resources: 371 firefighters, nine 20-person hand crews, five dozers, 30 engines, one air attack plane, two Type 1 helicopters, and one Type 3 helicopter.

Current closures: U.S. Highway 89 is closed from milepost 425 to 445. The closure is being assessed daily to see when the road can be safely opened. 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 at 928-679-8525

 

8:30 am: From the USFS:

Date reported: April 17, 2022

Cause: Under investigation.

Origin: 14 miles northeast of Flagstaff, Doney Park. (GPS: 35.304167, -111.588611)

Current size: 20,198 acres (decrease acreage due to more accurate mapping).

Percent contained: 0%

Current resources: Approximately 371 firefighters, nine 20-person hand crews, five dozers, 30 engines, one air attack plane, two Type 1 helicopters, and one Type 3 helicopter.

Predicted smoke impacts: Smoke will impact the Doney Park area in the evening as temperatures drop and smoke drains. During afternoon hours, smoke will move toward the northeast.

Current closures: U.S. Highway 89 is closed from milepost 425 to 445. The closure is being assessed daily to see when the road can be safely opened. 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 at 928-679-8525. Due to the forecasted change in wind direction, wind speeds and gusts, the observed fire behavior and the condition of the fire line protecting the neighborhoods, the CCSO is following the recommendations set forth by the Tunnel Fire Incident Management Team and keeping all “GO” evacuations in place for the next 72 hours (until Sunday morning, April 24). There is still a high level of danger in the “GO” evacuated areas and it is not prudent to open it to residents at this point. Safety of the community and the welfare of those who reside in and visit Coconino County remains the top priority.

 

Helicopters aided in fire suppression efforts yesterday 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 Friday with a slight chance of moisture and higher humidity to accompany todays 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 yesterday 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/

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