Residents head back home after Tinder Fire evacuations

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Tinder fire coverage. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5 News) Tinder fire coverage. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5 News)
The Tinder fire burning in Coconino County. (Source: US Forest Service) The Tinder fire burning in Coconino County. (Source: US Forest Service)

Residents headed through the barricades on Highway 87 early Friday morning to get a look at their property after the Tinder Fire, sparked a week ago near Winslow, tore through communities in northern Arizona and forced their evacuations.

 “Everything comes and goes,” said homeowner, Brian Brakefield. “What can you do?”

Brakefield already knew he’d find nothing but ashes and rubble where his home once stood. He had returned to his property after the wildfire swept through his community.

[RELATED: Tinder Fire evacuees to be allowed to return home on Friday, fire 48% contained]

“You know, it’s just a forest fire. How frustrated can you get?” said Brakefield. 

He waited out the evacuation at a nearby lodge. Brakefield says family lives nearby and will help him out as he rebuilds.

Fire crews said much of the snow that fell earlier in the week was gone, and because of the drier conditions, smoke could now be seen, showing crews where to focus their operations.

According to forest officials, the Tinder Fire was sparked a week ago by an illegal campfire.

[RELATED: Illegal campfire to blame for starting Tinder Fire, investigators say]

“You have people come out of the valley who don’t realize people live here, and they start fires and then they leave and they get to go home,” said Brakefield.  “And we all get to run around and play in the smoke.”

Residents were allowed home on a schedule released by the Coconino County Sheriff’s Office. Highway 87 was reopened Friday shortly after 4 p.m.

[SPECIAL SECTION: More on Arizona Wildfires]

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