PRESCOTT, AZ — Some evacuations are set to be downgraded Monday for residents impacted by the Crooks Fire, south of Prescott.
The Crooks Fire was discovered around 10 a.m. Monday, April 18, approximately 10 miles south of Prescott.
As of May 3, it has burned approximately 9,402 acres and is 83% contained. Fire officials said the fire is believed to be human-caused and is under investigation.
"Despite the significant wind event yesterday, there was minimal fire growth. Firefighters were successful in holding the northern flank and preventing further spread," fire officials said Saturday.
VIDEO: Tuesday, April 19
The flames quickly spread in the hours that followed its ignition.
"This is in an area where we have heavy fuels. It is obviously very dry and very windy. So, there was some growth on that fire today,” said U.S. Forest Spokeswoman Debbie Maneely.
The Red Cross has relocated its shelter from the Findlay Toyota Center in Prescott Valley to the Yavapai College gymnasium in Prescott.
VIDEO: Monday, April 18
"A lot of these areas are south of town, one-lane roads, dirt road, and very narrow,” added Maneely.
The fire is burning through brush, ponderosa pine, and mixed conifer. Local resources including aircraft have been working in rugged terrain to identify hazards. More resources including crews, engines, and aircraft have been ordered.
As of Wednesday, the following areas have been issued GO evacuation notices:
- Breezy Pines
- Camp Kippa
- Lookout Mountain
- Mount Pine Acres
- Mount Tritle
- Mount Union
- Potato Patch
- Walker Rd south of Lynx Lake
These locations have issued SET evacuation notices for the following areas:
- Evan’s Cabin
- Groom Creek and Groom Creek camps
- Hopper’s Retreat
- Lower Wolf Creek
These locations have issued READY evacuation notices for the following areas:
- Poland Junction
Officials have also issued road closures in the area, below:
- Goodwin Rd - Crown King to Senator Hwy.
- Walker Rd is blocked at Senator Hwy.
- Lower Wolf Creek Rd blocked at Senator Hwy.
- Big Bug Mesa blocked at Goodwin Rd.
The City of Prescott has closed two recreation areas. Watson Lake and Goldwater Lake recreation areas have been closed until further notice. This includes the trails that are inside the park boundaries. Willow Lake, Pioneer Park and other City of Prescott recreation areas remain open at this time. City trails outside of the park boundaries, such as the Peavine Trail, remain open.
Strong winds, dry conditions, and easily burnable terrain continue to pose a challenge for fire crews.
"Our winds predominantly come out of the south-southwest, which means it’s going to push that fire to the north and the northeast, so we really want to try to focus our efforts up there on the north end of the fire to try and keep it from going into those other communities," says Prescott National Forest spokesperson Debbie Maneely.
All Bill Garrigus could do was watch from afar.
“Your heart is beating out of your chest and you don’t know how much time you have,” he said from outside the shelter with his wife and two dogs.
Garrigus lives near Mt. Tritle, which is one of the areas under the Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office “Go” evacuation order.
On their Facebook page, the Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office wrote in part, “Even if you are not in one of the areas mentioned above, or think you aren't in the path of the current fire, YCSO still urges you to remember that all of Yavapai County has the potential for a wildfire. It only takes one spark! So...get your 5 P's together - "people, pets, papers, personal items, prescriptions.”
Garrigus got a notification on his phone he needed to evacuate but the red-flag wind speeds were helping him make that decision to pack what he could and leave the rest behind.
“One minute it’s going east, another minute it’s going west. We decide to get out of there,” he said.
YCSO says a shelter has been set up at the Yavapai College gymnasium in Prescott for anyone that needs it.
At one point on Tuesday, more than 130 kids were inside the shelter. Out of an abundance of caution, they evacuated a camp inside the forest. They were given food and bused back to the Valley.
EVACUATIONS: Information about current evacuation status can be found on the Yavapai County Sheriff’s Department Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/YavapaiCountySheriff/
FOREST CLOSURE: To provide public health and safety due to firefighting operations and fire danger associated with the uncontrolled Crooks Fire, the Prescott National Forest has implemented a forest closure. To view the closure order and map visit: Prescott National Forest - Alerts & Notices.