Residents received upbeat news on Thursday evening about the progress of firefighting from Crooks near Palace Station south of Prescott.
At a community meeting at Embry Riddle University, Operations Section Chief Kyle Jacobson told attendees that the north end of the fire, in the area of Camp Kippah, Mount Union and Mount Davis , retains its current footprint.
The fire grew to 9,014 acres with 23% containment. There are 855 people fighting the fire, with fixed-wing aircraft, helicopters and heavy equipment.
“It’s rare to have as much air support as we have,” said Incident Commander Rocky Opliger of California Interagency Team 4.
Jacobson said crews are also making progress in the Five-Points, Moscow Peak, Yankee Doodle Peak area, “and we expect to see increased containment in the coming days.”
Jacobson also said there has been no real perimeter growth at the southern end of the fire, “so we are getting closer to capturing the eastern flank.”
“We haven’t seen much fire growth in the west,” he continued. “There aren’t many access roads in the Johnson Flat area, so we used helicopters to ferry the crews.”
Most of the activity in this area, he said, took place in the H-14 area up to Highway 81.
“It’s all in the 52B Road area,” he said. “It’s an essential part of the line.”
“There were extremely windy conditions and it’s extremely steep terrain, but despite it all the crews did everything they could to contain the fire.”
Sheriff David Rhodes told meeting attendees that the Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office, in coordination with other agencies, is evaluating evacuation statuses several times a day “so that as soon as possible we can repopulate all areas, so that everyone can go home.
There must be reasonably safe conditions before evacuations can be lifted, he said, thanking residents for their patience and cooperation.
“Your cooperation makes this possible,” he said. It makes it safe. We know it’s embarrassing, but we assess the situation several times a day.
Rhodes also warned anyone entering closed areas to take a closer look at the fire.
“The time for the warning has passed,” he said, explaining that the office has received reports and observed individuals in areas designated as closed. “We will take enforcement action if we catch anyone there who shouldn’t be there.”
The area north of Walker Road is still in SET status, as are Groom Creek and Ponderosa Park. Breezy Pines has been evacuated.
“With the wind, things that seem safe can quickly become very dangerous,” he said.
YCSO is monitoring its Facebook page, he said, to answer questions from residents about the evacuation status.
Bunny Troup of the American Red Cross said the American Red Cross shelter at the Yavapai County Gymnasium is still open, but cannot accept homemade food for safety reasons. Any food donation, she said, must be packaged or prepared by a commercial kitchen.
Agency administrator Sarah Clawson of the Prescott National Forest said the closure area in the forest was extended slightly south this week and the closure order may last longer than the evacuations, as firefighters still need to carry out removal and repair work. The Prescott National Forest, she said, is working closely with the incident management team to assess closures.
Regarding the upcoming Whiskey Row Off Road races this weekend, she said the Forest Service and other agencies are “very, very confident that there is no threat to anyone in town.” during the event, and that a new air quality monitor was installed near the Prescott courthouse plaza.
Clawson also urged residents to “do whatever you can to make your home defensible” against fires. This includes clearing brush, cleaning gutters, and moving piles of wood away from the structure.
“If you’ve been waiting to do this, please don’t put it off any longer,” she said.
Responding to questions from residents about the use of the aircraft, agency administrator Jake Guadiana said the aircraft were immediately dispatched, but were to be used in conjunction with ground crews in the fight. against fire. If fire-retardant slurry falls and gets stuck in the treetops, he says, it will eventually dry out and the fire will burn through it.
Jacobson responded to a question about a 9 a.m. or 10 a.m. daytime fire start by explaining that fire crews are fully briefed by 5:30 a.m.
“We also need to coordinate night resources with day resources,” he said. “We certainly don’t do bankers’ hours. Many teams work more than 16 hours a day.
Flight operations, he said, typically begin around 8 a.m. and factors such as the flight hour limit for pilots and daylight conditions to effectively drop retardant on fire must be taken into account. into account.
A video replay of the meeting is available at youtube.com/watch?v=76FIn1LHc9w.