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Evacuations ordered for Rafael Fire burning west of Sedona

Rafael Fire
Rafael Fire
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Posted at 8:01 PM, Jun 20, 2021

Some communities in northern Arizona -- near Flagstaff and Sedona -- have been ordered to evacuate because of the Rafael Fire burning within the Prescott National Forest, while other communities have been told to prepare for possible evacuations.

As of Sunday morning, the wildfire is over 62,000 acres in size and is 11% contained.

The Coconino County Sheriff’s Office announced Saturday that evacuation orders were lifted for residents living in the South Garland Prairie neighborhood.

Residents returning to the area are on SET status and re-entry was allowed at 5 p.m. Saturday. Identification will be required to verify residents’ addresses before they are allowed back into the area.

Fire officials said evacuation orders remain in effect for Sycamore Canyon and Loy Ranch as of Sunday.

Red Cross volunteers have opened a shelter at Sinagua Middle School in Flagstaff.

The wildfire was discovered on Friday, June 18, after dry thunderstorms and lightning moved through the area.

The Arizona Central West Zone Type 3 Incident Management Team is managing the Rafael Fire, as well as a collection of five other, and smaller, lighting-caused fires, collectively known as the "Rock Butte Fires":

As of Friday morning, fire officials released the following information for these fires:

Red Hat Fire - 49 acres, 100% contained
Limestone Fire - 33 acres, 100% contained
Spring Fire - 567 acres, 75% contained
Rock Butte Fire - 127 acres, 56% contained
Silent Fire - 27 acres, 100% contained

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WILDFIRES WITH EVACUATIONS

RAFAEL FIRE: 78,750 acres, 89% containment
Evacuations: GO: in Coconino County, Sycamore Canyon. SET: in Yavapai County, Loy Ranch. READY: in Coconino County, Garland Prairie South and Garland Prairie North, South of Williams, Sherwood Forest, Camp Navajo, West of I-17 south of 1-40, Westwood Estates, Flagstaff Ranch (including W.L. Gore), Mountain Dell, Pine Del, Forest Highlands, Kachina Village, University Heights, Equestrian Estates, Upper Oak Creek Canyon, West Fork, Lower Oak Creek Canyon, and in Yavapai County, Grey Ranch, Windmill Ranch, Bear Mountain, and Sedona.

BACKBONE FIRE: 40,826 acres, 43% containment
Cause: Lightning
Evacuations: SET: Strawberry, Hunt Ranch, Pine

WYRICK FIRE: 7,592 acres, 76% containment
Cause: Lightning
Evacuations: SET: Antelope Valley, Despain Ranch, Heber-Overgaard, Chevelon Retreat, areas north of State Route 260 and northwest of State Route 277

TELEGRAPH FIRE: 180,725 acres, 89% containment
Evacuations: GO: Dripping Springs, Wind Spirit, Hagen Ranch, Slash S Ranch, Government Springs. READY: El Capitan East and West, Six Shooter, Icehouse Canyons, Superior, Globe, Miami, Claypool, Central Heights, Pinto/Carlotta, Skill Center, Fairgrounds, Schulze Ranch, Ray Mine, Top-of-the-World, Bellevue, Oak Flat, Beverly Hills, Riverside, Kearny, Winkelman, Hayden, Battle Axe area.

PINNACLE FIRE: 34,417 acres, 60% containment
Evacuations: None
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Some residents in Kachina Village say they have been through this before.

“If it gets windy, that's the bad thing. If it gets windy, it could just run right through here and everything would be gone. But, I'm feeling a little bit hopeful because you know, it's got to cross Sycamore Canyon and that has some forest to go through,” says George Aitchison.

Aitchison has lived in Kachina Village since 1983. He’s used to preparing ahead of time but his friends, not so much.

“This is our post-pandemic vacation, waiting really a year and a half. So, this has been on the books for a while and what are the odds of coming to this beautiful place and having to face this,” says Tom Whitney, who is visiting from Vermont.

It’s also a first for another couple who moved to the community just 11 months ago.

“We don't know what to do. Are we going to sleep in our house tonight? Are we going to be with some friends... forced to move in the middle of the night with our cats to a friend’s house?” says Jagoda Janiszewska.

They are just hoping tomorrow will bring a better situation.