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Suspect arrested as Pipeline Fire burns out of control near Flagstaff

A wildfire sparked just 6 miles north of Flagstaff near Schultz Pass Road and Mt. Elden Road Sunday morning. As of 8 p.m., the fire has burned 4,500 acres.
Published: Jun. 12, 2022 at 12:25 PM MST|Updated: Jun. 12, 2022 at 10:21 PM MST
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FLAGSTAFF, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) - A wildfire sparked just 6 miles north of Flagstaff near Schultz Pass Road and Mt. Elden Road Sunday morning. As of 8 p.m., the fire has burned 4,500 acres. Sunday evening, Coconino National Forest and Coconino County Sheriff’s officials confirmed to Arizona’s Family, that a suspect believed to have started the fire was arrested.

Officials say 57-year-old Matthew Riser was seen leaving the area shortly after the fire started in a white pickup truck off Snowbowl Road. Authorities say Riser was stopped and detained until federal officers from the Forest Service arrived. A spokesperson for CCSO said Riser was booked into the Coconino County Jail for violation of a burn ban and residential use of a national forest.

Flagstaff fire officials say the Pipeline Fire was originally reported at 10:15 a.m. by a fire lookout and is active on all sides. The National Forest Service has requested an incident management team. They are scheduled to arrive in the next few days. Coconino County has announced that the Arizona Snowbowl, those living in the area of west Schultz Pass Road, areas of Timberline south of Brandis, Wupatki Falls, Girls Ranch, and Fernwood must evacuate. All of Doney Park is under a SET status, meaning that residents should prepare for evacuation should they need to leave quickly. Snowbowl officials said the park would be closed on Monday. ADOT announced extended closures on Highway 89 north of Flagstaff due to the fire.

All hikers and campers in the area are asked to leave, particularly those in the Schultz Pass region down to the Fort Valley trailhead area. Coconino County is encouraging all residents in the area to prepare to evacuate as the fire is moving quickly, in light of windy conditions. If you are in the impacted area but are unsure what to pack, click here for a resource designed by the Arizona Emergency Information Network.

The Red Cross opened a shelter for those who’ve been displaced by the fire at Sinagua Middle School. Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez says the Navajo Nation Gaming Enterprise and Twin Arrows Casino Resort are also offering emergency lodging or shelter for anyone impacted by the wildfire. The Red Cross has also established an animal shelter at Fort Tut-Hill.

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