Helicopters, crews make progress with lines around fire
U.S. 89 remains closed
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. — 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/
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: 20,198 acres (acreage decrease 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.
• 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.
Information provided by Coconino National Forest