Wallow Fire: Portions of Eagar evacuated; forest closures

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By Natalie Flanzer By Natalie Flanzer
By Natalie Flanzer By Natalie Flanzer
Jackson Pollock, 9, is determined to protect his home in Greer as he sprays water from a hose onto his house. By Natalie Flanzer Jackson Pollock, 9, is determined to protect his home in Greer as he sprays water from a hose onto his house. By Natalie Flanzer
By Natalie Flanzer By Natalie Flanzer
By Natalie Flanzer By Natalie Flanzer

APACHE COUNTY, Ariz. -- The Apache County Sheriff's Office has ordered further evacuations due to the Wallow Fire burning in eastern Arizona.

The evacuation order includes areas south of Highway 260 and east of Greer, including South Fork and portions of Eagar.

Highway 260 will remain open for the evacuation and will be closed immediately afterward.

Monday afternoon the Apache County Sheriff's Office issued the immediate evacuation of the town of Greer, Sunrise and the surrounding area. Springerville, Round Valley and Eagar were put on a pre-evacuation notice.

All evacuees in eastern Arizona are encouraged to go to the American Red Cross shelter at Blue Ridge High School, 1200 W. White Mountain Blvd., in Pinetop-Lakeside, or if you choose to go to a different location, evacuees are asked to register with the Wallow Fire Joint Information Center by calling 928-333-3412. The shelter that has been established is a no-pet shelter.

Pre-evacuations were issued as a precaution for residents, so they can be prepared in case officials issue a mandatory evacuation order.

On Sunday, the ACSO ordered the immediate evacuation of several subdivisions along highways 180 and 191 near the Arizona/New Mexico state line. Those areas include: Escudilla Mountain Estates, Bonita, Dog Patch and the H-V Ranch. Also included are CR 4000, CR 4001 and CR 4225.

The Wallow Fire has grown to become Arizona's second-largest wildfire in history and as of Tuesday, stood at more than 389,000 acres. Air and ground crews are currently battling the fire with no containment.

The evacuation of Blue River residents by Greenlee County officials remains in effect. The evacuation order for the communities of Alpine and Nutrioso by Apache County Emergency Management remains in effect.

Residents in the areas of Sprucedale, Beaver Creek Ranch, Beaverhead, Brentwood and residential areas along Forest Road 26 have also been asked to evacuate.

The communities of Hannagan Meadow, Spricedale and others also continue to remain evacuated as a Type I Firefighting Team takes over the battle against the blaze. 

The team has access to more resources than the Type II team that had been in charge since the fire started at the beginning of last week.

Residents who have been forced to evacuate do not know how long they will be out of their homes. People were given just hours to get their things together and care for their livestock.

About 2,500 people have been affected by the fire and subsequent evacuation orders. Many of them are staying in shelters in Springerville and Pinetop-Lakeside and a good amount are staying with friends and family.

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Residents evacuating in eastern Arizona should take U.S. Highway 180 north to Springerville then U.S. Highway 60 west to Show Low, then State Route 260 east to Pinetop-Lakeside. Do not take State Route 260 west to Pinetop-Lakeside.

The northern evacuation route for residents of Blue, Ariz. is blocked so residents there should plan to take Forest Road 232 into New Mexico.

The Arizona Department of Transportation has closed Highway 191 from Alpine on the north to the Clifton on the south (mileposts 176-253).

State Route 261 is closed starting seven miles south of S.R. 260 to Crescent Lake (mileposts 394-405) and S.R. 273 is closed between Sunrise Park and Big Lake (mileposts 390-397).

US 180 is closed between the S.R. 260 junction near Eagar and the New Mexico state line (mileposts 403-433).

S.R. 373, a 4.5 mile-long highway connecting Greer and Eagar is now closed. No word on when the roadways will re-open.

Other closures due to the Wallow Fire in the eastern parts of Arizona are as follows:

The Apache National Forest is closed. The temporary emergency closure include the Clifton and Springerville Ranger Districts. The use of all campgrounds, day-use picnic areas and trails on the forest are closed. All National Forest System roads will be closed.

The southern boundary of the closure area is the Mogollon Rim and goes north to Forest Roads 249 and 116. The western boundary is the San Carlos Apache and White Mountain Apache Indian Reservations and goes east to Highway 191.

Campgrounds in the West Fork and East Fork areas of the Black River are also under evacuation.

Additional recreation closures include:

•      Big Lake Recreation Area
•      The road to Big Lake will be closed at the scenic overlook
•      Gabaldon Campground is closed
•      Mt. Baldy Wilderness is closed
•      The entire trail system within the wilderness is closed
•      Sunrise Park resort cancels weekend scenic lift rides

For the latest information residents can call 928-333-3412. If an evacuation become necessary the sheriff's office in either Apache or Greenlee counties will issue the notice.

If you are being evacuated, you will not be able to take your animals with you to the various  shelters so you will need to make special arrangements for them. Round Valley Animal Rescue is taking pets -- cats, dogs and small critters. For more information, call 923-333-1166. If you have horses or other livestock, contact the St. Johns Fairgrounds at 928-551-0803 or 928-333-1051.