Quick response saves Flagstaff - East Valley Tribune: Arizona

Quick response saves Flagstaff

Font Size:
Default font size
Larger font size

Posted: Friday, June 16, 2006 11:12 am | Updated: 4:56 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

FLAGSTAFF - Forest thinning and fast action by firefighters were the keys to sparing Flagstaff from the ravages of a 120-acre wildfire that was the sort of blaze authorities had long feared, authorities said Thursday.

The fire that forced the evacuation of 1,000 homes in west Flagstaff on Wednesday had burned in a forested area and had the right winds to potentially blow flames into the city. It burned within feet of a half-dozen houses and came within a quarter mile of others on the edge of the community.

Twenty-four hours after it began, the Woody fire was fully contained and evacuees were allowed to return to their homes, none of which were damaged.

‘‘It could have been very bad, and we were very fortunate that we had all the resources available that we needed,’’ said Raquel Romero, a fire information officer.

Authorities credited a combination of factors in saving the homes in Flagstaff.

Seven airplanes and two helicopters were brought in quickly to douse the fire with water and retardant. Crews started fires along the inner edge of containment lines to consume natural forest fuels in the blaze’s path.

Past forest thinning, evacuation planning and fire response drills also paid off.


• A wildfire east of this northeastern Arizona city was up to 3,000 acres Thursday night and still only 5 percent contained, officials said.

The fire, 60 miles east of Page, was at 2,500 acres Wednesday and mostly grew in the early-morning hours Thursday, said Jim Whittington, a spokesman for the Southwest Incident Management Team.

He said cloud cover and slightly cooler daytime temperatures Thursday helped the nearly 450 firefighters build more containment line.

Crews also continued burnout operations — diminishing fuel from the fire by lighting smaller fires — around communication towers on the mountain.

Whittington said there was no estimate for full containment of the lightning-caused Navajo Mountain blaze, which began Saturday.

On Wednesday, the fire moved down some canyons on the northern, Utah side of Navajo Mountain on the Navajo Indian Reservation.

Although two communities and numerous single homes reside at the base of Navajo Mountain, Whittington said they were not threatened and no structures have been burned.


• Authorities evacuated three homes Thursday in the path of a wind-driven wildfire 13 miles south of Alpine that grew to 1,300 acres by nightfall.

The Beaverhead fire started early Thursday afternoon and was pushed by wind gusts of up to 50 mph, said Bob Dyson, a spokesman for the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest.

Dyson said the fire was burning south of Josh Place, a 40-acre stretch of private land that contained three residences and some outbuildings.

It was not immediately known how many people occupied the residences or where they sought shelter.

Dyson said several bulldozers, fire engines and hotshot crews were at the scene trying to protect the Josh Place property, and helicopters made water dumps on the flames until nightfall.

Fire information spokeswoman Kartha Ray said crews were doing burnout operations overnight.

The cause of the blaze was unknown and under investigation, according to Ray.

She said wind gusts were making it difficult for crews to contain the fire, which was burning grass, ponderosa pine, douglas fir and mixed conifer on hilly terrain.

The blaze also crossed Highway 191, forcing a road closure between Alpine and Hannigan Meadow.


• A 6,200-acre wildfire was 80 percent contained by Thursday night as crews continued to keep flames away from homes in an eastern Arizona subdivision.

The Potato fire was no longer moving northward but was still a half mile away from the closest home, said Peter D’Aquanni, a spokesman for the management team assigned to the fire.

D’Aquanni said the fire now is expected to be fully contained by Saturday night.

‘‘Our strategy is working well, even with red flag warnings for a second day because of strong winds,’’ he said.

Nearly 600 firefighters were battling the fire, which authorities said was caused by lightning on June 6.

D’Aquanni said many members of the crews would be deployed to other fires.

An evacuation was ordered late Monday afternoon for 26 threatened homes but authorities said it may be lifted soon.

Some residents in the Chevelon Retreat and Chevelon Acres subdivisions about 10 miles north of Heber obeyed the order, while others chose to stay.

The fire was within two miles of the homes when the evacuation order was issued.

  • Discuss
Your Az Jobs