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Tunnel Fire northeast of Flagstaff 0% contained, Ducey declares state of emergency

By: - April 21, 2022 2:02 pm

The Tunnel Fire burning northeast of Flagstaff on April 21, 2022. Photo by U.S. Forest Service/Coconino National Forest

Gov. Doug Ducey has declared a state of emergency in response to the Tunnel Fire in Coconino County that has currently burned more than 20,000 acres and has 0% containment.

“Our team is on the ground working with first responders to monitor the Tunnel Fire in Coconino County,” Ducey said in a press release. “As strong winds fuel fires across Arizona, we are doing everything we can to keep Arizonans safe.”

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The Tunnel Fire is located 14 miles northeast of Flagstaff along U.S. Highway 89. It began April 17; the cause is unknown but currently under investigation, according to fire officials. 

Windy conditions caused the fire to rapidly spread. It is located in an area with dry grass and brush, with scattered Ponderosa pine. There were 179 firefighters working on the fire as of Wednesday.

The state of emergency will assist impacted communities with the resources needed to respond to and recover from the fire’s destruction.

The state of emergency directs $200,000 from the state’s general fund to the director of the Arizona Division of Emergency Management. Ducey signed the declaration on Thursday.

“We pray for the safety of the responders and firefighters in Northern Arizona, and are thankful for their dedication to protecting the lives, pets and property of Arizonans,” Ducey said in a written statement. “Our prayers are with the residents affected by the fire and we encourage everyone in the area to follow the guidance of fire officials, stay safe and respond to any evacuation notices. We will continue to monitor the situation and deploy additional resources as necessary.”

The Coconino County Sheriff’s Office began evacuation operations in the Timberline–Fernwoo areas north of Flagstaff along Highway 89 on April 19.

More than 200 homes are threatened, according to the Coconino County Sheriff’s Office. A shelter has been set up at Sinagua Middle School for those affected by the evacuations, and the Coconino Humane Society is available for evacuated animals.

U.S. 89 remains closed in both directions between mileposts 425 and 445 north of Flagstaff, according to the Arizona Department of Transportation. There is no estimated time of reopening.

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Shondiin Silversmith
Shondiin Silversmith

Shondiin Silversmith is an award-winning Native journalist based on the Navajo Nation. Silversmith has covered Indigenous communities for more than 10 years, and covers Arizona's 22 federally recognized sovereign tribal nations, as well as national and international Indigenous issues. Her digital, print and audio stories have been published by USA TODAY, The Arizona Republic, Navajo Times, The GroundTruth Project and PRX's "The World." Silversmith earned her master's degree in journalism and mass communication in Boston before moving back to Arizona to continue reporting stories on Indigenous communities. She is a member of the Native American Journalist Association and has made it a priority in her career to advocate, pitch and develop stories surrounding Indigenous communities in the newsrooms she works in.

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