Wallow Fire 10 percent contained, some evacuees allowed home

Posted: Updated:
CH-54A Sikorsky Helicopter
Photo taken by Jayson Coil (www.jaysoncoil.com) with the Southwest Area Incident Management Team. By Jim Carr CH-54A Sikorsky Helicopter Photo taken by Jayson Coil (www.jaysoncoil.com) with the Southwest Area Incident Management Team. By Jim Carr

SPRINGERVILLE, Ariz. -- Two weeks after Arizona's second largest forest fire began, the Wallow Fire is now 10 percent contained, according to official reports.

The Wallow Fire's total burn area now covers 443,989 acres of eastern Arizona. The Rodeo-Chediski fire covered 468,638 acres during June and July 2002. 

Evacuation orders were lifted for the residents of the Springerville, Eagar and South Fork on Sunday. While those people were allowed home, they were warned that the air quality was not good. Families with small children, the elderly and people who suffer from respiratory issues were being advised to give the air some time to clear before returning home.

Evacuations remain in effect for Sunrise, Greer, Blue River, Alpine, Nutrioso, and a number of subdivisions along highways 180/191. There have been no evacuations in New Mexico.

Sunday’s activities included mop-up and hazard tree removal in the Alpine, Nutrioso, and Tal Wi Wi areas. Mop-up is underway in the South Fork area following the burnout operation conducted last night. Burnout operations were completed along FR 220 south to US 180, northwest of Luna, NM.
On the east side of the fire, efforts by firefighters to burn out remaining fuels between the containment lines and the fire have been successful. Firefighters completed a burnout operation in the Turkey Creek drainage and are building a containment line to the intersection of Highway 281 and the Blue River. Line construction is continuing along the Blue River.  Containment lines in the vicinity of Greer are being widened.
On the western and southern side of the fire, firefighters made good progress widening and holding existing control lines and are beginning mop-up in areas north of the Black River.  Firelines immediately south of the Black River are holding.  Crews are constructing approximately 10 miles of indirect line along the fire’s south end.
Public Safety
With re-entry to Springerville, Eagar and South Fork, returning residents may encounter dangerous conditions. Be aware of possible health-related issues, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services.  Air quality could continue to be a concern; afternoons tend to be better, and short-duration returns are recommended. People with health issues should only return if absolutely necessary. 

Community Meetings Tomorrow, June 13

  • Burdette Hall in San Carlos, AZ. 10 A.M.
  • White Mountain Apache Tribal Council Chambers in White River, AZ. 6 P.M.
  • Community Center in Reserve, NM. 7 P.M. MST

Current Evacuations

  • Sunrise, Greer, Blue River, Alpine, Nutrioso, and the following subdivisions along highways 180/191: Escudilla Mountain Estates, Bonita, White Mtn. Acres, and the H-V Ranch. This area includes County Road (CR) 4000, CR 4001, and CR 4225.
  • There have been no evacuations in New Mexico.

Evacuee Information

  • The evacuation center is located at Blue Ridge High School, 1200 W. White Mtn. Blvd., Pinetop/Lakeside. The center phone number is (602) 336-6660.
  • Residents with livestock or animals that need care should contact the Apache County Sheriff’s Office (928) 337-4321 or the Greenlee County Sheriff’s Office (928) 865-4149.

Pre-Evacuation Alert

  • A pre-evacuation alert continues in Apache County for Greens Peak, Hidden Meadows Lodge and the surrounding areas.
  • A pre-evacuation alert by the Catron County Sheriff’s Office continues for Luna, New Mexico.
  • Residents in the communities affected by this fire are asked to remain prepared to evacuate should an order be issued.

Road Closures according to Arizona Department of Transportation:

  • State Route 260 remains closed from Horseshoe Lake to South Fork Junction (milepost 390).
  • State Routes 261, 273, and 373 remain closed.
  • U.S. 180 from Springerville to the New Mexico State Line remains closed.
  • U.S. 191 is closed between Alpine and north of Clifton (mileposts 176 – 253).

Road Openings

  • U.S. 60 is now open.

Closures and Restrictions
Apache – Sitgreaves National Forest: The Apache portion of the National Forest is closed to all public entry.  For the Sitgreaves portion of the National Forest, a temporary emergency closure order is in effect.  (http://www.publiclands.org/firenews/AZ.php).
Gila National Forest:
A closure is in effect for the western portion of the Gila National Forest in the Quemado, Reserve and Glenwood Ranger Districts.  (http://www.fs.usda.gov/gila)
Fire Facts:
Location: Apache, Navajo, Graham, and Greenlee Counties, Arizona; Catron County, New Mexico
Total Personnel: 4,311, Includes 24 hotshot crews; 84 hand crews
Date Started: 05/29/2011
Cause: Human – under investigation
Residences: 2,714 threatened; 29 destroyed;5 damaged
Size:  443,989 acres total
Commercial Property: 473 threatened; 4 destroyed
Resources: 15 Helicopters, 5 Air Tankers available; 334 Engines; 66 Water Tenders; 27 Dozers
Outbuildings: 1,216 threatened; 35 destroyed; 1 damaged;
Vehicles: 1 destroyed.
Injuries to Date: 7