Illegal campfire to blame for starting Tinder Fire, investigators say

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(Source: 3TV/CBS 5) (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
At least 30 buildings have been burned. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) At least 30 buildings have been burned. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
The Tinder Fire has burned more than 11,400 acres with zero containment. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) The Tinder Fire has burned more than 11,400 acres with zero containment. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
Investigators said finding the person or people responsible for the illegal campfire is going to be tough. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Investigators said finding the person or people responsible for the illegal campfire is going to be tough. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
HAPPY JACK, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -

Investigators with the U.S Forest Service announced on Tuesday that an illegal campfire sparked the Tinder Fire that has burned thousands of acres in north-central Arizona.

The campfire was abandoned but shouldn't have been started due to Stage I fire restrictions, according to officials with the Coconino National Forest.

[SLIDESHOW: Tinder Fire erupts in Coconino County]

“This shows extreme lack of care for public safety and our natural resources when people would have an illegal campfire, much less abandon an illegal campfire," said Andy Pederson, a captain with the Forest Service patrol for northern Arizona.

[SPECIAL SECTION: Arizona Wildfires]

The Moqui Tower lookout reported the fire on April 27 at 11:43 a.m. and began near Forest Road 95, roughly 1.5 miles east of the C.C. Cragin Reservoir, officials said.

The fire spread to the bottom of East Clear Creek Canyon and strong southwest winds pushed the fire northeast up the canyon and toward homes about 3 miles away, officials said.

[READ MORE: Communities in northeastern Arizona evacuated for 11,000-acre Tinder Fire]

The Tinder Fire has burned 11,423 acres with zero containment.

Nearly 600 fire crews at battling the wildfire in the area with numerous summer and vacation homes.

[VIDEO: Aerial view of homes destroyed by the Tinder Fire]

Officials have estimated the fire has burned 30 buildings and threatened about 1,000 homes and other buildings. About 600 people are still evacuated.

Crews said the weather should help them get a better handle on the fire.

Fire management team spokesman Brian Scott says firefighters are trying to keep the fire from burning in one direction toward housing tracts and in another direction so that it doesn't enter a valley where it could burn for a long time.

Firefighters said the name of the wildfire was supposed to be the Kinder Fire but a dispatcher wrote down the wrong first letter and the name stuck.

[READ MORE: Arizona fire supposed to go by another name]

Investigators said finding the person or people responsible for the illegal campfire is going to be tough as witnesses are hard to come by but the investigation is ongoing.

[RELATED: 'Tinder Fire' burning northeast of Strawberry]

If anyone was in the area of Forest Road 95 near the start of the Tinder Fire on April 27 and has information that could help this investigation, they can contact Forest Service Law Enforcement at (928) 527-3511.

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