Brins Fire Update, 7 p.m., June 24
Great Basin Incident Management Team 1
Current Status — Highway 89A from Flagstaff south to Halfway Picnic area was re-opened today at 8:30 a.m. to residents and business owners only. Oak Creek Canyon and Highway 89A south of the Halfway Picnic Area to Uptown Sedona remain closed to all but fire traffic for safety reasons. Law enforcement personnel will be stationed at the picnic area to enforce the road closure. The closure will be re-evaluated on a daily basis and re-opened when the dangers diminish. If an emergency situation should occur, the warning system would be activated and Coconino County Sheriff’s officers would contact individuals with further instructions.
The Red Cross Evacuation Center located at the Big Park Community School in the Village of Oak Creek closed this evening at 7 p.m.
Today, firelines were constructed to slow the spread of the fire in the cliffs on the west side. Heli-rappellers were used in Division A to access remote areas of the fire. A helispot is being constructed that will be used tomorrow to access part of the south side of the fire. Hotshot crews are doing direct attack where possible on the fire in Division Z to reduce the amount of fireline needed.
Fire continued to back down to Oak Creek Canyon today. This area of the fire was the major focus of fire suppression operations. Supported by engines and helicopters, firefighters conducted burnout operations on the southeast side of the fire, and worked to secure containment lines.
Crews also continued efforts to re-inforce and enhance existing containment lines on the north and northwest area of the Brins Fire, laying fire hose for over 1 mile in Sterling Canyon from west to east.
Crews were strategically staged along Highway 89A monitoring the fire. Rolling debris on Highway 89A remains a concern. Wildland and structural protection engines remained strategically staged to protect residences and businesses, and aggressively attack any possible spot fires over Highway 89A. A front-end loader is being used to remove rocks and other debris from Highway 89A as needed. Containment is expected by June 28.
Residents and visitors in the Sedona and Verde Valley areas may continue to see large quantities of smoke over the next few days resulting from additional burnout operations. Emergency measures are in place to notify the public should there be any concerns for residents. The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality continues to monitor air quality on a daily basis. Smoke-related inversions should lift around 9:00 am each day.
Wilderness values and Threatened and Endangered species habitat (Mexican spotted owl, narrow-headed garter snake, and Peregrine falcon) continue to be a concern during fire suppression efforts.
The point of origin for the wildland fire is closed to public access. An $11,000 reward is now being offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for the wildland fire. The number to call is 928-527-3600.
Estimated Acreage/expected containment 4,222 acres. This is based on an Infrared plane flight late yesterday. Containment is estimated at 35%; full containment is predicted for June 28. Approximately 5 miles of fireline remain to be built.
Resources on the Fire/Costs Crews: 18 Helicopters: 8 Engines: 34 Water tenders: 15 Total Personnel: 777
Other resources continue to arrive. Costs to Date: $ 4,000,000.
Cooperators — City of Sedona, Office of State Forestry, Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office, Coconino County Sheriff’s Office, Department of Public Safety, Arizona Department of Transportation, Sedona Fire District, Sedona Police Department, Sedona Airport Authority, Grand Canyon Chapter of the American Red Cross, Arizona Department of Environmental Quality, Forest Service, Bureau of Indian Affairs, Bureau of Land Management, and National Park Service.
Evacuations —The next community meeting at the Elk’s Lodge near the Sedona Airport will be Monday, June 26, at 1:30 p.m.
The evacuation order for the following communities remains in effect:
Oak Creek Canyon from Midgely Bridge to the fish hatchery in Sterling Canyon (this includes homes, businesses and Forest Service campgrounds).
Residents are being escorted in and out by the Coconino Sheriff’s Office on a limited basis to retrieve any pets and livestock as well essential items such as personal medications.
Closures and restrictions — Increasing fire danger conditions across the Southwest has warranted closure of the entire Coconino NF. The forest was closed to public access and use Friday morning, June 23, at 8 a.m. Closures in the past have proven to be an effective means of reducing the number of human-caused fires. Penalties for violation of this closure range from $100 to $5,000.
Included in the Coconino NF closures:
• All campgrounds, day use picnic areas and cabins on the forest.
• All trails on the Coconino National Forest.
• All lakes, including Lake Mary, Ashurst Lake, Kinnikinick Lake, Blue Ridge Reservoir, Stoneman Lake.
• Cinder Hills Off-Highway Vehicle Area north of Flagstaff.
• St. Joseph’s Youth Camp near Mormon Lake.
• Arizona Snowbowl Skyride.
• All National Forest System Roads will be closed, but all interstates, state and county roads through the Coconino National Forest will remain open.
Incident plans for tonight —Tonight, the major focus of fire suppression operations will be holding the fire within containment lines. Crews will also continue fireline re-inforcement and enhancement efforts, including burnouts, in the southeastern corner of the fire. Natural breaks in the topography will be utilized as much as possible to limit on-the-ground effects to the landscape. Efforts will also continue to hold the fire west of Highway 89A, as well as providing structural protection measures for residences and other structures within Oak Creek Canyon.
Tomorrow, the western flank of the fire will be monitored by crews supported by helicopters. When and if the fire falls off the cliffs and becomes accessible, additional fireline will be constructed for containment. .
Fire weather— The forecast for tonight is widely scattered, dry thunderstorms (20%). Clouds will be decreasing late in the evening. Cloud cover tonight will hinder the development of inversion, keeping temperatures up and humidities low; 27-32% RH. Temperatures on the fire will range from 48 to 68, with highest temperatures in Oak Creek and Sterling Canyons. Winds will be generally out of the south at 4-8 mph, with gusts to 15 mph. Gusty, erratic winds of 40 mph or greater are possible near thunderstorms.
Tomorrow’s weather is expected to be cloudy early in the morning. Cloud cover is predicted to be 50-60% during the morning hours. There is a chance for dry thunderstorms in the evening. The extended forecast for Monday through Wednesday is for slight chance of dry thunderstorms each day, with more moisture.
Fire and Other Information — Although the National Forest is closed, Sedona and Flagstaff still offer many summer attractions and activities. Visit the Sedona Chamber of Commerce website (www.sedonachamber.com) for information regarding the many things to do in and around Sedona. Private campgrounds and the campground at Fort Tuthill County Park near Flagstaff will remain open with campfire and smoking restrictions. All Forest Service offices and visitor centers will be open. The closure will be lifted when sufficient precipitation is received to adequately reduce the risk of wildfire to a manageable level, and hot, dry weather conditions are not forecast to continue.
For fire information and all media inquiries, please call the Brins Fire Information Center at 928-203-9648, 928-203-9650 or 928-203-7732.
For information related to the Coconino National Forest including fire restrictions/ and closures, please call the Coconino National Forest Information Center at 928-226-4601.
For evacuation-related concerns, please call the Emergency Operations Center at the Coconino County Sheriff's Office at 928-679-4174 or 928-679-4175.
Arizonans can also dial 2-1-1 to hear updates on the fire. Arizonans unable to dial 2-1-1 can call 1-888-GoTo211 (888-468-6211). Or visit www.AZ211.gov.
Fire Websites: For continued fire information on the national forest, visit www.coconinoforest.us. Specific information for the Brins Fire can be found at ftp://ftp.nifc.gov/Incident_Specific_Data/GREAT_BASIN_E/Brins2006/