Arizona fire grows to 18,000 acres, forces evacuations

By Allen Cone  |  June 28, 2017 at 11:53 AM
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June 28 (UPI) -- A wildfire in Arizona quadrupled in size to 18,000 acres within 24 hours and forced the evacuation of several towns, according to the Arizona Department of Forestry and Fire Management.

The Goodwin Fire was south of Prescott and 100 miles north of Phoenix and was only 1 percent under control late Tuesday.

On Monday night, Wildfire Today reported, the fire was 4,400 acres and had spread to 12,000 by 2:40 p.m. Tuesday. The fire started Saturday from an unknown cause.

The wildfire was spreading in hot, windy and dry conditions.

A weather station at Sunset Point, 14 miles southeast of the fire, recorded a temperature of 101 degrees, 3 percent relative humidity and wind gusts at 23 to 31 mph.

The state forestry department posted on Twitter on Tuesday night: "Fire crews working w/ 'volatile and explosive' fuels. Winds also creating unsafe conditions."

It forced the evacuation of several small towns: Mayer, Chaparral Hills and Poland Junction.

Bradshaw Mountain High School in Prescott Valley is being used as a shelter. During a community meeting Tuesday night at the school, officials said that flames had crossed SR 69 between I-17 and the junction with State Route 169 near Mayer. The road is a major link between Prescott Valley/Prescott and Phoenix.

Officials said strong winds helped fuel the fire burning mostly through chaparral and heavy grass that have been untouched for nearly 40 years.

More than 500 firefighters are fighting the fire, and helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft are dropping fire retardant.

Firefighters are establishing a perimeter around Mayer, a town of 1,400 residents. Officials said the fire hadn't burned any structures yet in Mayer

Pete Gordon, fire chief for Prescott National Forest, reminded residents that 19 Granite Mountain Hotshots died on a hill four years ago on June 30 while fighting the Yarnell Hill wildfire 33 miles from Prescott.

"They weigh heavy on my mind, and I am sure they weigh heavy on your mind," he told the crowd. "So please understand that while we send firefighters into difficult places, there are places we will not go. We hope you support and appreciate that."

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