By FELICIA FONSECA Associated Press
FLAGSTAFF, Arizona (AP) – Evacuations are underway in parts of northern Arizona as a wildfire grows gradually about 6 miles (9 kilometers) north of Flagstaff Sunday, authorities said.
Coconino National Forest officials said the pipeline fire was at 10:15 a.m. reported by a fire lookout and burned about 4,000-5,000 acres by late Sunday, about 15 miles (24 kilometers).
In connection with the fire, Forest Service law enforcement said they arrested a 57-year-old man and charged him with natural resource violations. The cause of the veld fire was not immediately known.
Coconino County Sheriff’s officials said the Arizona Snowbowl ski resort and people living in the area off western Schultz Pass Road should be evacuated. People living in Doney Park and the area near Mount Elden need to be prepared.
Euelda King and her family evacuated their home for the second time this year due to veld fires. She did not return from a spring fire before leaving again on Sunday, this time she was able to grab photos and clothes she had not found before.
“Here we go again,” she said.
The family of 11 plans to stay at the Navajo Nation casino, which provides assistance to tribe members who have evacuated.
The family waited in a parking lot in front of road closure signs and watched smoke flow through the air and planes flying overhead.
“The wind is high, and I think they’re going to have a bit of a fight with it,” King said.
Wind gusts swept the smoke through the Schultz Pass in the direction of Doney Park and authorities said recreational people were being told to leave immediately, especially those in the Schultz Pass area.
The American Red Cross Arizona has opened a shelter at Sinagua Middle School for residents who evacuated.
“With this thing going as fast as it is, it can get a lot closer, of course with the hope that it doesn’t happen,” King said.
Authorities said 13 engines, nine crews, six prevention patrol units, three bulldozers and one water tenderer were involved in fighting the blaze. An incident management team is scheduled to arrive Monday.
The Arizona Department of Transportation has closed US Route 89. The department said in a Twitter post that there is no estimated time to reopen the road.