Weather seen as pivotal in fight against fire near Show Low

Posted at 1:14 PM, Jun 16, 2016
and last updated 2016-06-17 11:47:33-04

Kim Reabe was bracing Thursday for a major traffic jam if a wildfire in east-central Arizona forced her and her 16-year-old son to leave their home in Linden.

She has already seen long lines at grocery stores, gas stations and pharmacies, as 150 firefighters tried to gain control of the blaze amid dry winds gusting to 28 mph.

"It's terrifying to have to evacuate ... and people don't want to have to deal with that," said Reabe, who has been coughing -- even inside her home -- from smoke.

The National Weather Service said the high temperature in the area was about 77 degrees with low humidity of about 10 percent.

"The fire is in a position that legitimately gives us all considerable concern," said Jeff Whitney, Arizona's state forester.

The blaze was burning about a mile from designated locations where the possible spread of the fire would trigger evacuations less than 10 miles away.

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Residents were being urged to prepare "go kits" with essential belongings such as medications, make arrangements for pets and put green tags on their doors or mailboxes so authorities know homes have been evacuated.

The cause of the fire was under investigation. A 20-mile stretch of U.S. 60 remained closed. Areas under pre-evacuation advisories included Show Low and Pinetop-Lakeside.

Authorities set up several shelters for evacuees.

Buck Binnie of Show Low said he and his family will start packing if they hear evacuations are mandatory.

"We'll take our computers and some of our vital documents, photos and that's really about it," Binnie said. "There's only so much you can take."

It wouldn't be the first time Binnie has had to flee his home. If it happens again, he and his wife and their four daughters intend to grab their cat Tux and ill head to his sister-in-law's home in New Mexico.


"Last time we evacuated, we went to their house and just had a mini vacation honestly," Binnie said.

The blaze had charred about 12.5 square miles, including thousands of acres that were set on fire by firefighters to deprive the fire of fuel. Air tankers are dropping retardant and water to stop the flames from spreading.

"If we get through today, I think we'll be all right," said Navajo County Sheriff KC Clark.

The trigger-point system and pre-evacuation advisories were devised after the devastating Rodeo-Chediski Fire of 2002, Morgan said.

It was one of the worst fires in Arizona history, burning more than 730 square miles and destroying about 400 homes in Pinedale and other small communities.