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Evacuations underway as Pipeline Fire burns north of Flagstaff

Posted at 8:26 AM, Jun 14, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-15 13:58:43-04

FLAGSTAFF, AZ — Authorities are reporting calmer winds and cooler temperatures Wednesday.

They add smoke settled into lower areas overnight and should dissipate as the day warms.

The Coconino County Health and Human Services advised the following:

  • Avoid breathing smoke if you can
  • Use visibility to estimate smoke levels and health impacts
  • If it's smoky out, it's not a good time for outdoor activities

An update was given by fire officials Tuesday:

The Pipeline Fire and Haywire Fire have scorched thousands of acres near Flagstaff, forcing evacuations for several communities.

The Pipeline Fire was reported around 10 a.m. Sunday, June 12. It has burned 20,000 acres as of Tuesday, according to National Interagency Fire Center data.

An update was given by fire officials Monday around 5 p.m.:

FAST FACTS:

  • Location: 6 miles north of Flagstaff
  • Size and containment: 20,000 acres, according to National Interagency Fire Center data; 0% containment
  • Cause: Believed to be human-caused, man in custody
  • Evacuations:
    • GO: Areas of West Schultz Pass Road (FS420), FS 557, FS576, FS522, FS 556
    • GO: Arizona Snowbowl
    • GO: Crater Estates
    • GO: Timberline South of Brandis
    • GO: Neighborhood along Highway 89 North in the Sacred Mountain Trading Post area (both sides of highway)
    • GO: All areas on Highway 89 north from Cullim Lane/Silver Saddle Road and east to Slayton Ranch Road
    • SET: Mt. Elden Lookout Road
    • SET: Mt. Elden Estates
    • SET: Doney Park
    • SET: Areas north of Sacred Mountain Trading Post to Antelope Hills and Sinagua Trading Post
  • Shelter information: Red Cross Shelter at Sinagua Middle School in Flagstaff, animal shelter set up at Fort Tuthill
  • Closures: Arizona Snowbowl, U.S. 89 is closed north of Flagstaff from milepost 425 to milepost 445

Just over 2,195 households are in GO status as of Monday night because of the Pipeline Fire, according to fire officials. One building is believed to be destroyed in the fire but details on where that was have not been released.

Fire officials said that strong winds in the area forced the fire to move northeast as it spread Monday. They hope those winds will die down at least a bit on Tuesday.

The fire is burning on both sides of Highway 89, according to information from the scene Monday, but officials are treating the Haywire Fire as a separate incident until they can confirm if it was started by a spot fire from the Pipeline Fire or something else.

The Pipeline Fire is believed to be a human-caused blaze and a man has been taken into custody in connection to the fire.

The U.S. Forest Service announced the arrest of a 57-year-old man Sunday evening. Coconino County Sheriff's Office identified the person in custody as Matthew Riser.

Deputies responding to the fire were given the description of a white pickup truck quickly leaving the area where the fire started. Deputies eventually conducted a traffic stop of the vehicle and took Riser into custody.

Police documents say Riser admitted to burning toilet paper in the area and said he was not aware of fire restrictions.

He was booked into jail on multiple charges.

Officials say there are approximately 600 total firefighters involved in suppression efforts as of Monday evening. Residents who were evacuated waited in long lines Monday to be escorted back to their houses to get last-minute belongings, before being forced to leave again.

Officials hope reduced wind speeds on Tuesday will allow air support to help contain the fires.

A Red Cross Shelter is set up at Sinagua Middle School in Flagstaff and an animal shelter is set up at Fort Tuthill.

Additional Red Cross information can be received by calling 928-679-8525.

Escorts to and from properties within the evacuated areas will continue to be available from the East Valley Baptist Church at 10655 N. U.S. 89.

Coconino County National Forest Incident commander Aaron Graeser says some of the assessments done after the Tunnel Fire will have to be redone because the Pipeline Fire is burning through the same area.

U.S. 89 is closed north of Flagstaff from milepost 425 to milepost 445.

Flagstaff Mayor Paul Deasy signed a Declaration of Emergency Monday night in response to the fire.