Eagle Rock fire is 90 percent contained

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By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland
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By Jennifer Thomas By Jennifer Thomas
By Jennifer Thomas By Jennifer Thomas
By Jennifer Thomas By Jennifer Thomas

UPDATE -- June 22:
WILLIAMS, Ariz. -- The Eagle Rock fire remains at 3,420 acres and is 90 percent contained. Total containment is expected on approximately June 25.

The fire is burning about 11 miles northeast of Williams, on the northeast side of Sitgreaves Mountain, in mostly ponderosa pine and conifer.

The Emergency Fire Closure around the immediate fire perimeter remains in effect.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation but is believed to be lightning.

ORIGINAL REPORT:
WILLIAMS, Ariz. -- More than 315 firefighters have joined the battle against a 3,400-acre wildfire burning in northern Arizona, and as many as 60 Spring Valley homes have been evacuated and as of Thursday evening the fire was 30 percent contained.

Strong winds yesterday grounded air tankers even as they whipped up the flames Kaibab National Forest near Williams, Ariz.

The Eagle Rock fire was detected by the Kendrick Mountain lookout Wednesday morning. It is burning 11 miles northeast of Williams on the east side of Sitgreaves Mountain.

Fire behavior is reported as running, torching and spotting, according to Punky Moore, a Kaibab National Forest spokeswoman. Dense smoke was visible for miles.

Kaibab National Forest fire crews are battling the wildfire, which is estimated to be 3,400 acres. The Northern Arizona Type 2 Incident Management Team with its hotshot crews and aircraft took over operations this morning.

Moore said the fire is moving in a northeasterly direction and is very active due to strong winds in the area. According to Moore, crews made some progress overnight, bulldozing a fire line on the northeast side of the fire.

A Red Flag Warning was in effect for the area Wednesday. Winds were blowing at approximately 30 mph and gusts of up to 55 mph. Those winds have died down significantly today, which is good news for fire crews. The window of opportunity, however, is relatively short. Winds are expected to pick up somewhat this afternoon and more so as we close in on the weekend.

While no homes have been lost at this point, two outbuildings have been destroyed and at least two utility trailers damaged.

Firefighters on the scene have quite a bit of work ahead of them.

"We want to try and get as much line around the fire as we can today," Moore said. "We're going to take full advantage of today [and the diminished winds]."

Officials do not know how the fire started.

Coconino County Sheriff's deputies made mandatory evacuation notifications to some residents in the Parks and Williams area going door to door along Forest Service Road 141 up to FS 144 and residences on FS 713 and FS194. CCSO asks residents leaving their homes to check in at the Maine Consolidated School.

Forest officials are recommending evacuations for all residents in the Spring Valley neighborhood area near Parks, Arizona. During this time of year the area has about 200 to 300 residents.

The Northern Arizona chapter of the American Red Cross did set up a shelter for evacuees. Tracey Kiest said they had about a dozen people check in Wednesday evening.

"We'll be working with emergency managers as out next step," Kiest said. "We are going to be here if there's additional need for us."

Kaibab Lake on the Williams Ranger District is closed to boating due to fire operations. The east side of the lake is closed to fishing. However, it remains open for camping.

To keep track of the wildfire and read evacuations ordered for the Spring Valley-area go to Official ANNOUNCEMENTS or Incident Information System.

If you have any pictures of the fire, please e-mail them to 3TVNews@azfamily.com