Arizona governor declares state of emergency in areas affected by Tunnel wildfire

On Thursday, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey declared a state of emergency in Coconino County due to the 20,000-acre Tunnel wildfire. The blaze started Sunday just north of Flagstaff and is 0% contained, according to the national wildfire clearinghouse website InciWeb. At least two dozen buildings have been destroyed and hundreds of homes near Flagstaff have been ordered to evacuate.  Fire crews are prioritizing residences, buildings and watersheds. The cause of the fire is still under investigation, according to InciWeb.

Governor Ducey said in a news release that the emergency declaration means officials can provide needed resources to impacted communities to “respond to and recover from the fire’s destruction. As strong winds fuel fires across Arizona, we are doing everything we can to keep Arizonans safe.”  He urged residents to “follow the guidance of fire officials, stay safe and respond to any evacuation notices. We will continue to monitor the situation and deploy additional resources as necessary.”

In addition, parts of the Coconino National Forest are also closed. The US Forest Service advised drivers to not take Forest Road 244A to avoid the closure of US 89, tweeting: “Maps are redirecting people around the fire using Forest Service roads, but those roads are UNSAFE and blocked off.”  The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality said gusty winds will continue overnight but the wind pattern will keep smoke away from Flagstaff.  They noted on their website: “As the next weather system approaches, gusty southwest winds of 25-35mph are forecast this afternoon. These winds may increase fire behavior and smoke production. Given the winds, smoke is forecast to stay low to the ground as it moves toward the northeast. The highest smoke impacts are forecast across the Navajo and Hopi reservations.”

Editorial credit: Anastassiya Bornstein / Shutterstock.com

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