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Flagstaff wildfire forces evacuations, arrest made in connection to start of pipeline fire

Estimated 4,500 acres burned
Arizona Wildfire
Posted at 9:10 AM, Jun 13, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-13 21:50:16-04

FLAGSTAFF (AP/KGUN) — Evacuations are in effect in parts of northern Arizona as a wildfire about 6 miles (9 kilometers) north of Flagstaff steadily grew Sunday, authorities said.

The Coconino County Sheriff's Office also confirms the U.S. Forest Service has arrested a 57-year-old man who they suspect started the fire.

RELATED: Pipeline Fire north of Flagstaff

However, they are unsure of how exactly he may have started it.

"The investigation into the cause of the Pipeline Fire is ongoing and, in order to protect the integrity of the investigation, we cannot discuss any details of the investigation," shared law enforcement Patrol Captain Andy Pederson.

Authorities say they booked the suspected arsonist into the Coconino County Sheriff’s Detention Facility for Federal Natural Resource Violations.

The U.S. Forest Service is currently handling the investigation.

Coconino National Forest officials reveal the Pipeline Fire was reported at 10:15 a.m. by a fire lookout and had burned approximately 4,000-5,000 acres by late Sunday, pushing about 15 miles (24 kilometers).

Coconino County Sheriff’s officials said the Arizona Snowbowl ski resort and people living in the area of the west Schultz Pass Road must evacuate. People living in Doney Park and the area near Mt. Elden should be prepared.

Euelda King and her family evacuated their home for the second time this year because of wildfires. She hadn’t settled back in from a springtime blaze before leaving again Sunday, this time able to grab photographs and clothing she didn’t get earlier.

“Here we go again,” she said.

The family of 11 is planning to stay at the Navajo Nation casino, which is offering assistance to tribal members who evacuated.

The family was waiting in a parking lot ahead of road closure signs, watching smoke billow through the air and aircraft flying overhead.

“The winds are high, and I think they’re going to have a little bit of a battle with it,” King said.

Wind gusts were sweeping the smoke through Schultz Pass toward Doney Park and authorities said recreationists were being told to leave immediately, especially those in the Schultz Pass area.

The American Red Cross Arizona opened a shelter at Sinagua Middle School for residents who evacuated.

“With this thing going as fast as it is, it could get much closer, of course hoping it doesn’t,” King said.

Authorities said 13 engines, nine crews, six prevention patrol units, three bulldozers and one water tender were involved in the fighting the fire. An Incident Management Team is scheduled to arrive Monday.

The Arizona Department of Transportation has closed U.S. Route 89. The department said in a Twitter post that there is no estimated time to reopen the road.

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Caleb Fernández is a digital content producer for KGUN 9. After earning his bachelor's degree from Penn State in Advertising/Public Relations, Caleb went to New York where he learned production assistance, photography and art direction. Share your story ideas and important issues with Caleb by emailing caleb.fernandez@kgun9.com or by connecting on LinkedIn, Instagram, and Twitter.