Communities near Tunnel Fire downgraded to lowest pre-evacuation status

Tunnel Fire
Tunnel Fire(Arizona's Family)
Published: Apr. 29, 2022 at 12:29 PM MST
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FLAGSTAFF, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -- Fire restrictions near Flagstaff are slowly being loosened as firefighters make considerable progress in containing the Tunnel Fire. While it’s burned more than 19,000 acres as of Friday morning, it is now 89% contained.

State forestry officials downgraded pre-evacuation orders for several communities along Highway 89. Those living along Camelbell Avenue to the north entrance of the Wupatki National Monument are part of the latest round of areas that fire officials are feeling confident about. At 7 a.m., those living in Timberline, Fernwood, Lenox Peak. Girls Ranch Road, Wupatki Estates. Antelope Hills and those with homes north and northeast of Moon Crater in Alpine Ranchos can rest a little easier knowing that those communities are no longer at a big risk of being affected by the Tunnel Fire.

The wildfire burned has burned about 30 homes and damaged dozens of others. Fire officials say the fire moved fast due to extreme weather and strong winds last week. Gov. Doug Ducey declared a state of emergency as hundreds of families were forced to leave their homes. Emergency declarations allow the state to allocate more resources and request federal assistance and at one point, more than 370 fire crews were on the scene.

“There has been a lot of work, progress, and investment on line construction around many parts of the Tunnel Fire,” said Deputy Incident Commander Shelby Erickson previously said.

Coconino County works together for the greater good

As the out-of-control wildfire spread through the grass fields of Coconino County, volunteers like Charlotte Peterson with the Coconino Humane Association raced to put together a pop-up shelter for animals being displaced. The Salvation Army also asked for donations for the wildfire victims. Days later, as the fire continued, a domesticated female pig was rescued by firefighters. The community’s bond held strong as another rescue, this time from Arizona Game and Fish, returned a beloved potbellied pig back to its rightful home earlier this week.

“She went limp and relaxed; a few times she kissed my face almost like a dog. I believe at that point she knew that we were trying to help her.”