Navajo-Hopi Nations,Flagstaff & Winslow News
Tue, May 17

Windy conditions challenge firefighters as Tunnel Fire grows to more than 19,000 acres
Resources and information for those affected by the Tunnel Fire

The Tunnel Fire as seen from Bonito Park April 19. (Photo/Inciweb)

The Tunnel Fire as seen from Bonito Park April 19. (Photo/Inciweb)

Update: 7:30 p.m. April 20.

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. — The Tunnel Fire 14 miles northeast of Flagstaff grew an additional 3,087 acres Wednesday for a total of 19,712 acres of fire driven by strong winds across the landscape in a northeast direction.

The Northern Arizona Type 3 Team is currently managing firefighting operations, and crews continued cooling hotspots and worked to keep fire outside of Timberline Estates and Wupatki Trail subdivisions. Crews encountered natural gas leaking from foundations, which added additional risk to suppression activities.

Firefighters had success on the western edge of the fire where they were able to limit extensive spreading, while a fire investigation team arrived today to begin investigating the fire origin and cause.

Forceful winds again limited the ability of air resources to support firefighting efforts, as strong up and downdrafts around the mountains kept aircraft from safely and effectively aiding in the firefight with retardant drops. Conditions are expected to become windier Thursday and Friday with gusts up to 50 mph in most of northern Arizona.

With the use of aircraft, it is imperative that private drones do not fly in and around the fire area. If a private drone is spotted in the area, all aircraft support will be grounded, which can be detrimental to firefighting efforts. Remember, if you fly, we can’t.

Current firefighting resources on scene include 260 firefighters, three dozers, 24 engines, one air attack plane, one Type 3 helicopter, and additional air assets on order. A Pacific Northwest Type 1 Incident Management Team has been ordered and will begin arriving Thursday, with plans to fully transition operations Friday morning.

U.S. Highway 89 is still closed from near milepost 425 (Campbell Road intersection) to 445 and will likely remain closed for the next several days due to firefighting operations.

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 Coconino County Sheriff’s Office is estimating approximately 25 structures have burned in the Tunnel Fire so far, and more information will become available as responders and firefighters are able to access neighborhoods get a true count as to how many and what type of structures have burned. The County has also established and Coconino County Tunnel Fire Call Center at 928-679-8525 for evacuees with additional 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/.

A recording of the community meeting that took place at Sinagua High School April 20 can be found at the following link: coconino.az.gov/tunnelfire.

Information for Navajo residents

Earlier April 20, Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez and Vice President Myron Lizer visited the Tunnel Fire Emergency Operations Center (EOC) in Flagstaff, Arizona, to meet with Coconino County Supervisor Lena Fowler and emergency response officials to provide support and receive additional information.

County officials reported that the fire has spread to over 16,000 acres and burned at least 24 homes. Highway 89 between Flagstaff and Tuba City remains closed due to the fire.

The county call center is available at (928) 679-8525 for any questions from those impacted by the fire.

The Navajo Nation Department of Emergency Management and Division Directors are also part of today’s discussions to offer support for impacted families. The Division of Social Services also has services available to impacted families:

Department for Self-Reliance — temporary assistance for needy families (TANF) program assists families with minor children when the parents are in hardship — (928) 810-8592 or info@nntanf.org;

Navajo Family Assistance Services (NFAS) — community services block grant (CSBG) CARES low-income home energy assistance program (LIHEAP) ARPA and General Assistance/Burial Assistance — NFAS Tuba City Office — (928) 283-3278

Navajo Treatment Center for Children and their Families (NTCCF) — provides outpatient counseling and other mental health services to Navajo children, ages 4-17 years of age. Outpatient counseling and aftercare services are offered to couples, groups and families by referral only — NFAS Tuba City office — (928) 283-3270.

More information about these services is available by contacting the Office of the Executive Director at (928) 871-6851.

The Navajo Nation Gaming Enterprise is also available to provide lodging for families that have been evacuated and are in need of shelter - please contact NNGE Assistant General Manager Michelle Landavazo at (505) 870-6234.

Those who have been evacuated are asked to call the Tunnel Fire Call Center so that the County may collect contact information to use as the situation develops. The phone number is (928) 679-8525.

Shelter Information

The Red Cross has opened a shelter for residents evacuated located at Sinagua Middle School, 3950 E Butler Ave, Flagstaff, AZ 86004.

Shelters for pets and livestock for those under evacuation order (in GO status):

• Household animals can be taken to Coconino Humane Association: 3501 E Butler Ave, Flagstaff, AZ 86004

• Horses, goats, sheep, pigs, and chickens can be taken to the Fort Tuthill County Stables. The stables are self-service. You are responsible for all services related to your animals including feeding and watering. Bring cages for smaller livestock staying at Fort Tuthill. MAP: https://www.google.com/maps?q=35.1490865,-111.6879575&hl=en-US&gl=us&entry=gps&shorturl=1

Closure of Highway 89

US 89 is closed north of Flagstaff. Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) has no estimated time to reopen the highway. Please avoid the area and seek alternate routes.

One alternate route is I-40 east to northbound SR 87; SR 264 east to US 160; and pick up US 89. Another alternate route is westbound I-40 to SR 64, and take that to US 89.

ADOT using the AZ 511 app to monitor road conditions and closures, since those can change at any time with brush fires. (This app will also help with alternate routes.) Drivers can download the app here: https://bit.ly/3hIqAM4

Donations

In response to the Tunnel Fire, United Way of Northern Arizona has created a fund to help those affected. To help, text UWNAZRESPONSE to 41444.

For ongoing updates, visit https://www.coconino.az.gov/TunnelFire

Follow Coconino County on social media: @coconinocounty on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Sign up for Emergency Notifications here: https://www.coconino.az.gov/207/Emergency-Management

The Coconino County Call Center is open and accepting calls. The phone number is (928) 679-8525.

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