A fast-moving Arizona Wildfire, fueled by high winds gusts and dry conditions, spreads across more than 6000 acres of land, prompting an evacuation, reports said.
“Tunnel Fire Update and Declaration of Emergency
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – The Tunnel Fire, located 14 miles northeast of flagstaff, started Sunday, April 17, and has spread to over 6,000 acres due to extremely high winds,” Coconino County officials Tweeted.
As of Tuesday evening, Coconino County officials reported that around 200 people were attempting to tackle the fire but had not been able to put it off or even contain it a bit.
The so-called Tunnel Fire was blazing about 22.5 kilometers Northside of Flagstaff. The state officials reported that nearly 800 residents and almost 1000 animals have been moved out from the region which is home to 2000 people or more.
“This was a very difficult evacuation procedure,” stated Coconino County Sheriff Jim Driscoll. “The rapid movement and progression of this fire made the evacuation much more difficult and complicated than we’ve had in the past.”
Driscoll further added that his team received calls from several people stuck in their homes but authorities were unable to reach them to help due to the blaze. He is not sure whether those people were saved or even survived.
Reports from the location revealed that the fire has burned down at least two dozen of structures and threatened hundreds more as it quickly moves towards the northeast, officials said.
“The fire was moving so fast that many of those officers were in harms way themselves,” said Driscoll. “I’m very proud of the fact that we were able to get this evacuation done despite the rapid progression of the fire.”
The Tunnel Fire broke out at roughly 4:30 p.m. on Sunday. The authorities are expecting a fire investigation team to arrive on Wednesday to look into the situation and identify how it has spread to this dangerous level.
Coconino County officials have issued a state of emergency across the region and urged residents to stay on alert and pay attention to evacuation orders.
On April 19, the Regional administrator of The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) authorized Arizona to use federal funds to combat the fire.