An out-of-control wildfire that burns six miles north of Flagstaff, Arizona, has promoted evacuations for hundreds of people. According to CNN, thousands could be placed under mandatory evacuation orders imminently.
The Flagstaff Fire Department and the National Forest Service said the fire was first reported early Sunday morning and has exploded in size, increasing to more than 4,500 acres.
Coconino County spokesman Trey Williams said 690 households had been ordered to evacuate, and another round of evacuations could be looming. He said an additional 2,410 households had been put on notice.
We are tracking several large wildfires in the western U.S.
— FOX Weather (@foxweather) June 13, 2022
A 57yo man was arrested in connection with the fire, the Coconino County Sheriff’s Office said in a press release, adding he has been charged with federal natural resource violations.
“The investigation into the cause of the Pipeline Fire is ongoing and, in order to protect the integrity of the investigation, we cannot discuss any details of the investigation,” said patrol Capt. Andy Pederson.
The fire is expected to spread Monday. The National Weather Service issued a red flag warning for the area amid drought and sustained winds of 25-35 mph, with gusts up to 50 mph.
Here are views of the fire from Flagstaff:
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— Deena (@deenaalb) June 12, 2022
Smoke from the fire descended on the Denver metro area.
— BoulderCAST Weather (@BoulderCAST) June 13, 2022
About 300 firefighters are battling the blaze. Eight air tankers, five helicopters, 13 engines, and nine crews have been deployed.
The latest fire comes after a wildfire in April scorched 19,000 acres 14 miles northeast of Flagstaff.
Severe drought conditions in the western half of the US have helped accelerate wildfires this year.
The National Interagency Fire Center reports that 24 large fires have burned 776,748 acres in five states (as of June 9). So far this year, 29,050 wildfires have burned 2,083,238 acres, with at least 95% of the fires being caused by people.