The Latest: Gusty winds pose challenge to Arizona fire crews
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) — The Latest on an Arizona wildfire (all times local):
Fire crews are using trails and roads to try to corral a wildfire burning near Flagstaff to keep it away from homes.
Operations chief Todd Abel says the fire has burned more intensely because of sometimes gusty winds that quickly can change the fire’s direction. He says that will pose a challenge to firefighters Tuesday.
Rain in the forecast this week could bring some relief.
The fire has burned 2.8 square miles (7.2 square kilometers) in the Dry Lake Hills area near Mount Elden. About 600 people are working the fire, along with aircraft that can drop water and retardant to slow the fire’s spread.
Incident commander Rich Nieto says the fire is the top priority for resources in the region.
A public meeting is scheduled at 6 p.m. Tuesday at Flagstaff High School.
Forecasters say storm runoff could cause flooding in Flagstaff due to rain on the nearby mountain watershed where a fire has scarred forested slopes and continues to burn.
The National Weather Service said Tuesday morning that moisture increased overnight and they expect “an active day of thunderstorms” and that hail, gusty winds, and localized heavy rain and flooding are all possible with the stronger storms.
A top-tier management team assumed command of firefighting operations Monday night and officials on Tuesday were scheduled to provide an update on air and ground operations to contain the fire, which started Sunday.
The latest estimate on the fire’s size was 2 .8 square miles (7.2 square kilometers). Its cause is under investigation.
More than a dozen homes have been ordered to evacuate in forested areas but authorities also have warned thousands of residents of large areas on the edge of the city to be prepared to leave their homes.
A mountain burning in northern Arizona is known for its labyrinth of dirt trails.
Mount Elden offers sweeping views of Flagstaff at an elevation of 9,300 feet (2,384 meters).
Mountain bikers say no other network of trails like it exists around the city, welcoming the novice to the professional rider.
Kyle Hornbeck owns a bicycle shop in town. He says he’s hopeful firefighters will stamp out the blaze quickly.
The fire that was mapped late Monday has grown to 2.8 square miles (7.2 square kilometers). Firefighters are expecting much-needed rain Tuesday accompanied by sometimes erratic winds that could shift the fire’s direction.
More than a dozen homes have been evacuated and thousands of others living amid the country’s largest contiguous Ponderosa pine forest have been told to prepare to leave.