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Tunnel Fire explodes to more than 21,000 acres north of Flagstaff, 25 buildings destroyed

Don Hill Tunnel Fire
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Tunnel Fire Panoramic
Tunnel Fire panoramic
Posted at 12:12 PM, Apr 19, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-20 11:32:32-04

FLAGSTAFF, AZ — The Tunnel Fire burning north of Flagstaff along Highway 89 has destroyed two dozen buildings, according to the Coconino National Forest.

The fire started April 17, and as of April 29, it has scorched about 20,000 acres. Officials say nearly 90% of the perimeter has been contained.

Several communities under SET evacuation status were downgraded to READY status, including Timberline, Fernwood, Brandis Way, Girls Ranch Road, Pumpkin Patch, Lenox Park, Wupatki Estates and Antelope Hills.

The Coconino County Sheriff's Office says approximately 109 properties have been impacted by the fire including 30 residences burned and 24 properties with outbuildings destroyed.

Officials say the fire was spreading in a northeast direction due to high winds with medium-to-high range spotting happening in timber and grass.

Coconino Forest officials said fire crews have also worked on the western flank near Forest Road 420 which is helping to stop the fire from burning up steep slopes toward Schultz Peak.

VIDEO: Thursday, April 21

Take a look at the map below for the latest Tunnel Fire perimeter, as well as approximate evacuation areas and more.

EVACUATIONS: More than 750 homes were evacuated because of the fire as well as 1,000 animals, according to forest officials.

RELATED: Crooks Fire in Prescott area grows to 1,600 acres, evacuations ordered

ROAD CLOSURES: U.S. Highway 89 is closed from milepost 425 to 445. There is no estimated reopening time.

SHELTER: The Red Cross says a shelter is open at Sinagua Middle School in Flagstaff for anyone who needs assistance.

ANIMAL SHELTER:

Shelters for pets and livestock for those under evacuation order (in GO status):

  • Household animals can be taken to Coconino Humane Association: 3501 E Butler Ave, Flagstaff, AZ 86004
  • Horses, goats, sheep, pigs, and chickens can be taken to the Fort Tuthill County Stables. The stables are self-service. You are responsible for all services related to your animals including feeding and watering. Bring cages for smaller livestock staying at Fort Tuthill. Click here for map.

The fire was first reported at 4:22 p.m. Sunday and its cause is under investigation.

Coconino County officials said Wednesday night that they’ve been in contact with restoration companies and trash services for when evacuees can eventually go back to their homes.

Coconino County Sheriff Jim Driscoll said before anyone can return after the fire is out – potential hazards like livestock and propane in the area need to be cleared and utilities need to be restored.

RELATED: Southwest fire crews brace for return of dangerous winds

A community assistance center has been launched at 2187 N Vickey St. in Flagstaff to help evacuees with housing, animal services, and food.

Anyone in need of the assistance center can call 928-679-8525.

The county urges all evacuated to call that number to provide addresses and contact information so teams can give information on re-entry and the status of their home.