Tunnel Fire evacuees still waiting to hear when they can get back in their homes

Posted at 8:24 PM, Apr 23, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-23 23:24:46-04

FLAGSTAFF — Today the Tunnel Fire remains 3% contained with over 21,000-acres still burning.

Dozens of residents are still waiting and hoping to get back to their homes.

An official date an time has yet to be announced, but we’re told a recommendation from the incident commander and crews on the ground will be given to the Coconino County Sheriff’s Office tonight.

At the meeting residents were given re-entry packets with information on safety precautions once they’re allowed back inside.

“The direction that our folks have today is evaluate, access, and give us a recommendation,” said Incident Commander Randy Johnson.

There was tension at today’s meeting, people wanting to know what happened and standing up to say they called the fire in Sunday and Monday.

“So the fire was called contained because there was no smoke or visible flame,” said District Ranger with the U.S. Forest Service Matt McGrath.

Officials said the firefighting conditions Saturday were much for favorable than what Flagstaff has seen in recent days.

A Type 1 Incident Management Team was on the ground to assist today and air assets were able to be used.

But some people like Jordan Isaac can’t even think about returning home.

What once was a family home filled with memories, now just ashes and rubble. His is one of dozens in the Flagstaff area that have been destroyed by the flames.

“It was pretty emotional,” said Issac about returning to his home.

But overall Isaac is just happy everyone in his family is alive.

Left with nothing, Isaac and others came to get food, water, and supplies at a drive-through event with the Flagstaff Family Food Center.

Others stopped by the Calvary Bible Church who opened their doors to donations and community volunteers like Kristy Tohm.

She knows first-hand what it’s like to evacuate and not have time to even think about what you need.

“I tried throwing what I thought they might need in a laundry basket,” said Tohm recalling the moment she had to leave her house.

But the Flagstaff community said coming together and doing what they can helps.

“That's what this is about,” said volunteer Julie Drinkard.

"Yeah I’ve had so many people just crying and hugging me today,” said Tohm. “We're just people from the community.”