Rapidly moving wildfire in Arizona destroys dozens of structures and forces hundreds to evacuate

Hundreds of homes near Flagstaff, Arizona, have been evacuated as a fast-moving wildfire has already destroyed at least two dozen structures and threatens hundreds more, officials said Tuesday.

The Tunnel Fire in Arizona’s Coconino County ballooned to more 6,000 acres as of Tuesday after it was first reported Sunday afternoon, officials said during a news conference. It was 0% contained by Tuesday evening.
“The fire is rapidly moving in a northeasterly direction with the significant winds that we’ve experienced today,” said Fire Management Officer True Brown.
      “I cannot stress enough how rapidly this fire is moving,” he said, adding that “unprecedented” winds have been fueling the fire.
        The fire is located about 14 miles northeast of Flagstaff, according to InciWeb, and its cause is unknown.
          An estimated 2,068 people live in the evacuation area, according to Patrice Horstman, chair of the Coconino County Board of Supervisors. “From this 766 households have been evacuated,” along with more than 1,000 animals, Horstman said.
          Deputies and other law enforcement officers were on the ground evacuating people from their homes, Coconino County Sheriff Jim Driscoll said during the news conference.
          “The fire was moving so fast; many of those officers were in harm’s way themselves. And I’m very proud of the fact that we were able to get this evacuation done despite the rapid progression of the fire,” Driscoll said.
          County officials declared a local emergency due to the fire, said Horstman, who urged people to stay informed on the fire’s development on the county’s website.
          “The Tunnel Fire has been fueled by high winds and dry conditions, and the county has deployed all available resources,” Horstman said during the news conference.
          About 200 crew members are fighting the fast-moving flames, and the county requested state and federal resources to help fight the fire, officials said Tuesday.
          The Federal Emergency Management Agency said it approved the request for federal funding, which would cover up to 75% of eligible firefighting costs, according to a news release.
          Local power and gas distribution networks, various historical and cultural sites, as well as 150 businesses are threatened by the fire, FEMA said.
            Horstman acknowledged the difficulty of the situation and reassured residents the county would stay behind them.
            “This is a time, as we’ve done in the past, for neighbors to help neighbors,” Horstman said. “The county will be here to support everyone during this very difficult time, but together as we’ve done before, we need to be here altogether as one to get through this.”

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