UPDATE: Human-caused 377 Fire in Heber area grows to 5,148 acres

Posted: Updated:
Multiple brush fires were together named the Highway 377 Fire. (Credit: Heber-Overgaard Fire Department) Multiple brush fires were together named the Highway 377 Fire. (Credit: Heber-Overgaard Fire Department)
The fires have forced evacuations in the Heber area. (Source: Ken Dewitt) The fires have forced evacuations in the Heber area. (Source: Ken Dewitt)
The Navajo County Sheriff's Office said a driver had a trailer dragging a tailgate along the State Route 377, which caused sparks to fly. (Source: Navajo County Sheriff's Office) The Navajo County Sheriff's Office said a driver had a trailer dragging a tailgate along the State Route 377, which caused sparks to fly. (Source: Navajo County Sheriff's Office)
A Type 3 Team has been ordered to fight the flames, NCSO said. (Source: Navajo County Sheriff's Office) A Type 3 Team has been ordered to fight the flames, NCSO said. (Source: Navajo County Sheriff's Office)
HEBER, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -

A wildfire in the Heber area has now grown to 5,148 acres. It is 20 percent contained.

What began as multiple brush fires has been named the 377 Fire. The fire area is located near State Route 377 and State Route 277.

The fire was human-caused.

Deputies said the fires were ignited by sparks from a trailer part being dragged by a semi-truck.

Troopers found and stopped the driver and the truck was placed out of service, DPS said.

[SLIDESHOW: Highway 377 Fire sparks evacuations in northeast-central Arizona]

The U.S. Forest Service is investigating and it's unclear if that driver will be cited or charged with anything.

The Arizona Department of Transportation has closed portions of both State Route 377 and State Route 277. State Route 277 was reopened on Tuesday afternoon.

[Special Section: Arizona Wildfires]

About 20 residents in the Heber area from at least three ranches were evacuated Monday.

Five buildings are being threatened, but crews worked through the night to make sure structures were protected.

Fire officials said power, phones and internet services are out for many residents in the Heber-Overgaard area, and there is no ETA to fix. If someone needs help, staffers are available at the Heber-Overgaard fire station.

Firefighters are building containment lines and dropping slurry around a cluster of homes on a 100-acre ranch that has belonged to an Arizona family for four generations.

The flames had burned up to the mailboxes on the DeSpain family's ranch by the time all the relatives and livestock were evacuated, said Brandie DeSpain, one of the evacuees.

DeSpain, an EMS division chief with Puerco Valley Fire District, said firefighters were using bulldozers to try to contain the fire but one had to retreat due to the fast-moving flames.

Now safely evacuated, she and other relatives are hoping firefighters are able to save a ranch that has been in their family for more than a century. DeSpain said there are about seven homes on the property.

"It's kind of sad. Disheartening," she said. "A lot of the older [family members], it's kind of hard for them to rebuild after this if it does take the homes."   

"It's a lot different when you're the one that's [sic] got a fire coming up on your house from whenever you're out there fighting to save somebody else's," she added.

"We’re not just talking about just land," said Jessica Harmon, who also lives on the DeSpain Ranch. "We’re talking about family and animals and friends people we worry about, and this shook us."

She said they had 20 minutes to evacuate Sunday, and they scrambled to get their animals to safety.

"Hopefully by tomorrow, we’ll have more positivity and answers as to if it’s safe and good for us to go home," Harmon said.

A shelter has been set up for animals and people at the Martinez Hall at the Navajo County Fairgrounds in Holbrook

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