Flagstaff wildfire forces evacuations, steadily growing

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) – Evacuations are underway in parts of northern Arizona as a wildfire grew steadily about 9 kilometers north of Flagstaff on Sunday, authorities said.

Coconino National Forest officials said the wildfire was reported by a lookout at 10:15 a.m. The fire produced a noticeable plume of smoke.

Coconino County Sheriff’s officials said the Arizona Snowbowl and people living in the western Schultz Pass Road area should be evacuated. People living in Doney Park and the area near Mount Elden should be prepared.

Euelda King and her family evacuated their home for the second time this year due to wildfires. She hadn’t come back from a spring fire until she left again on Sunday, this time able to grab photos and clothes she hadn’t gotten before.

“Here we go again,” she said.

The family of 11 plans to stay at the Navajo Nation casino, which provides assistance to tribesmen who have been evacuated.

The family waited in a parking lot for road closure signs as they saw smoke rising through the sky and planes flying overhead.

“The wind is high and I think they will have a little trouble with it,” she said.

Gusts of wind pushed the smoke through Schultz Pass toward Doney Park and authorities said holidaymakers were told to leave immediately, especially those in the Schultz Pass area.

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

“Now that this thing is going so fast, it could be getting a lot closer, of course hoping not,” King said.

Authorities said a fire crew was on their way to the wildfire, along with a bulldozer, a water tender, three patrol units and six motorcycles.

They said four air tankers and one helicopter have also been ordered, along with an Incident Management Team that will arrive in the coming days.

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.

The cause of the wildfire was not immediately known.

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