KGUN 9NewsWildfire Watch


Walnut Fire moves away from I-10

Rain raises hope of fire suppression
Posted at 5:41 PM, Jun 23, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-23 20:41:11-04

DRAGOON, Ariz. (KGUN) — After triggering evacuations and causing temporary shutdowns on I-10 Tuesday, the Walnut Fire was moving north away from the highway Wednesday.

Late Wednesday afternoon, the weather offered some extra hope of suppressing the fire. There was about a half-hour of light to moderate rain but the storm included lightning so it also carried the possibility of sparking new fires.

After a day where some firefighters were right on the edge of I-10, more of the fight has moved away from the road.

I-10 has been carrying the usual traffic, with smoke in the distance a reminder of how the fire had come so close I-10 was closed part of the day before. Instead of a run down a fast freeway, drivers were faced with a more than two-hour detour.

Eloy Salmeron is bringing his family from San Francisco to Texas. He’s happy the fire did not throw a wrench in his trip.

“We stopped about 30 miles down the road over there but we saw that on the news and we’re thinking. We didn’t know what to expect. Now we’re here and we can see all the damage because of the fire here.”

The town of Dragoon is quiet, under a “go” evacuation order. Nearby, firefighters have been guarding the Amerind Museum. Fire crews set back burns between the fire and the museum for a controlled burn of grass and brush that otherwise could carry the fire to the museum.

Keeping large animals safe is a special concern when fire hits a rural area. The J-6 Equestrian Center volunteered to take in horses and other large livestock removed from the evacuation zones. Samantha Jepson told us it takes far more planning to move a horse compared to a pet like a dog. There are hundreds of pounds of food needed to sustain a horse for a week or two, and the need to coax the horse into a trailer for the move. She says so far she’s just had her usual horses in for boarding because horse owners have offered friends space for horses outside the danger zones.

“It’s been really fantastic to see. We’ve got a lot of people really pulling together to help with evacuations and assists people who don’t have trailers at their homes that are having trouble getting their horses loaded, things of that nature, and a lot of the people that’s I’ve spoken with, my friends and clients have taken on a horse here and there so they’re all finding places to go at the moment.”

The Walnut Fire is not the only one to affect major roads in Arizona. Other fires around the state have led to closures and slowdowns so it will pay to check your route.