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Evacuations remain as Pipeline Fire burns north of Flagstaff

pipeline fire
pipeline fire
PipelineFire_CK-2.jpg
Pipeline Fire
Posted at 11:49 AM, Jun 12, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-20 20:19:02-04

FLAGSTAFF, AZ — The Pipeline Fire and Haywire Fire have scorched thousands of acres near Flagstaff, forcing evacuations for several communities.

The Pipeline Fire was reported around 10 a.m. Sunday, June 12.

Fire officials said that their efforts Tuesday to keep the Pipeline Fire from spreading further into the burn scar of the Tunnel Fire have so far been successful.

FAST FACTS:

  • Location: 6 miles north of Flagstaff
  • Size and containment: 26,528 acres, 50% containment
  • Cause: Believed to be human-caused, man in custody
  • Shelter information: Red Cross Shelter at Sinagua Middle School in Flagstaff, animal shelter set up at Fort Tuthill
  • Closures: Arizona Snowbowl

For the latest on evacuations for the Pipeline Fire, click here.

According to fire officials, one building is believed to be destroyed in the fire but details on where that was have not been released.

With light winds, crews were able to use helicopters Tuesday to prevent the flames from spreading any further into communities.

The fire is burning on both sides of Highway 89, according to information from the scene Monday, but officials are treating the Haywire Fire as a separate incident until they can confirm if it was started by a spot fire from the Pipeline Fire or something else.

The Pipeline Fire is believed to be a human-caused blaze and a man has been taken into custody in connection to the fire.

The U.S. Forest Service announced the arrest of a 57-year-old man Sunday evening. Coconino County Sheriff's Office identified the person in custody as Matthew Riser.

Deputies responding to the fire were given the description of a white pickup truck quickly leaving the area where the fire started. Deputies eventually conducted a traffic stop of the vehicle and took Riser into custody.

Police documents say Riser admitted to burning toilet paper in the area and said he was not aware of fire restrictions.

He was booked into jail on multiple charges.

A Red Cross Shelter is set up at Sinagua Middle School in Flagstaff and an animal shelter is set up at Fort Tuthill.

Additional Red Cross information can be received by calling 928-679-8525.

Escorts to and from properties within the evacuated areas will continue to be available from the East Valley Baptist Church at 10655 N. U.S. 89.

Coconino County National Forest Incident commander Aaron Graeser says some of the assessments done after the Tunnel Fire will have to be redone because the Pipeline Fire is burning through the same area.

A portion of U.S. 89 is closed in the area.

Flagstaff Mayor Paul Deasy signed a Declaration of Emergency Monday night in response to the fire.

For resident Danny Cobb, this is the second time he’s been forced to evacuate in the last two months. First the Tunnel Fire and now, the Pipeline Fire.

Monitoring the smoke from the bed of his truck Tuesday, Cobb is forced to be patient as he uses binoculars to try to see if his house is still standing.

“It's nice that the wind has calmed down today because that surely gets the fire departments the ability to get boots on the ground and attack the fire,” says Cobb. “With the slower winds, of course, it's nice to be able to see the planes up there and helicopters.”

Cobb knows what it’s like for these fire crews. His family retired in Flagstaff after he served as an Alaskan firefighter for 26 years.

"You watch these things over your career happen,” says Cobb. “You see how it impacts people. And then you're thrust into that position. That’s how life is, right?”