Twin fire evacuees head back home

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by Stacey Delikat and Tara Hitchcock

azfamily.com

Posted on October 5, 2009 at 6:51 AM

Updated Tuesday, Oct 6 at 8:46 PM

People evacuated because of a wildfire burning near Williams are being allowed back in their homes.

The fire, which started as a prescribed burn in Northern Arizona, turned into a full-fledged wildfire and is threatening part of the town.

The fire began on Thursday when prescribed fires, planned to protect Williams from wildfires were blown out of control by a shift in winds.

The Twin fire has burned 921 acres outside of the prescribed burn area and Tuesday morning was 60 percent contained.

Saturday evening it was about one mile southwest of Williams. Dozens of homes were evacuated.

Winds are making it a bit more difficult for firefighters to battle the blaze. Now the biggest concern is making sure it does not get any closer to town.

Williams resident Edith Pouquette says she is in awe of the smoke taking over her town. She says, "Look at that gee whiz! Yeah, it’s really bad. It’s a shock to all of us."

In the air and on the ground, fire crews are now using all methods at their disposal to contain the blaze.

Sixty-four homes along the southwest corner of the city were evacuated.

Evacuees were directed to a shelter in town, while firefighters stayed back to keep an eye on the empty homes.

Punky Moore with the Kaibab National Forest said, "We're not seeing the intensive fire behavior from Friday, although it feels like the winds are starting to pick up."

Now smoke hangs over the city and Interstate 40 and is threatening other neighboring subdivisions. So far no structures have burned.

"The biggest concern is winds are a factor of course and it has been moving in a northeast direction towards Williams. We want to make sure it doesn't get into town," Moore said.

Both schools in Williams are closed.

The Red Cross shelter has been staged at the Williams Elementary Middle School at 601 N. Seventh St. For information call 928-635-5653 or 928-635-5635.

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