Photo by Les Stukenberg.
Yarnell Tenderfoot Fire
YARNELL – What started as a two-acre brush fire exploded in 600 burning acres in Yarnell Wednesday night. Three structures were confirmed lost by 9 p.m. and 200 evacuees were expected to spend the night at Yavapai College.
The initial report Wednesday afternoon was for a small fire, about 2 acres, which started at about 3:15 p.m.
But, driven by winds gusting up to 20 mph, it has grown quickly to 600 acres.
Bureau of Land Management spokeswoman Dolores Garcia said the “Tenderfoot Fire” had, by 9 p.m., burned at least three outbuildings in the area.
According to the Arizona Department of Transportation, Highway 89 will remain closed through the night.
The Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office used its Code Red system to alert the entire town to evacuate. People who left town were being directed to go to the Yavapai College campus in Prescott.
“Deputies continue to evacuate residents, and are focusing on those with handicaps. Ambulance service has made several runs to assist in this effort,” YCSO spokesman Dwight D’Evelyn said.
Emergency management is set up with Yavapai County Volunteer Organizations Assisting Disasters. It includes ham radio operators, nurses, Salvation Army, CERT, Animal Disaster Services and the United Way.
They were expecting up to 200 evacuees by bus. "We're in full preparation for that now," Red Cross shelter manager Betsy Bykerk said.
The college approved the full 200 to stay in the gym overnight.
Red Cross has only 50 cots, and is expecting to double that with help from the Flagstaff division of Northern Arizona Red Cross.
Individual families started arriving at 7:30 p.m.
The mayor's office organized pizza from Papa John's, water and ice from Hensley Beverage and Costco, snacks from Fry's and coffee from Wild Iris.
“Food is taken care of, and the college will be preparing breakfast,” Bykerk said.
She asked people not to donate at the shelter. Monetary donations are welcome by any of the participating organizations. The shelter will specifically turn away any noncommercial food items.
The Animal Disaster Services staff is accepting donations of cat and dog food. They would prefer people not give them then cheapest, which tends to promote diarrhea; rather, a midrange product. Drop it off at Building 4 on the campus.
In the vicinity of Yarnell and Peeples Valley, Highway 89 was closed in both directions between mileposts 275 and 282, according to the Arizona Department of Transportation.
A helicopter made water drops as a DC-10 tanker dumped slurry to build a suppression line around the east side of town.
D’Evelyn said “the fire is currently concentrated on the east side of Yarnell,” and there were 85 people fighting it Wednesday night. The 2013 Yarnell Hill Fire, which claimed the lives of 19 Granite Mountain Hotshots, was on the west side of the highway.
The Tenderfoot Fire knocked out power to 1,050 customers, from Kirkland Junction to Congress, according to APS.
The fire was also worrisome because it threatened communications equipment the sheriff’s deputies were using, although the fire had not damaged it as of 7 p.m.
As night fell, D’Evelyn said some parts of the fire had become less active.
There have been no injuries reported.
Courier reporter Les Bowen contributed to this story.
Evacuees shelter at Yavapai College
PRESCOTT – Volunteers with Northern Arizona Red Cross expected up to 200 evacuees at Yavapai College on Wednesday night, June 8, after fire threatened homes in Yarnell.
They initially had cots for only 50, eventually growing to 85 beds.
By 10 p.m., about a dozen evacuees had registered at the shelter. Shelter manager Betsy Bykerk said many people displaced from their homes in Yarnell may have stayed to gather personal belongings and could arrive later in the night. Others may have arranged to stay with friends and family.
“The number right now is not clear. I’ll get a more confident number in the morning,” Yavapai County Emergency Manager Denny Foulk said.
He learned of the fire around 4:30 p.m. and began to mobilize after hearing the first update.
“I was told the fire was growing very rapidly and they would be evacuating the east side of Yarnell,” Foulk said.
That triggered a response from the Yavapai County Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster – a coalition of organizations that includes the Red Cross, Salvation Army, nurses, ham radio operators, Community Emergency Response Teams, Animal Disaster Services and the United Way.
Foulk said the shelter gives evacuees a place to stay for the night, with food and drink provided.
Evacuees’ cats and dogs stayed on the Yavapai College campus in a center run by Animal Disaster Services. Prescott Rodeo Grounds provided boarding for larger animals including horses.
YARNELL -- A wildland fire is burning near the town of Yarnell on Wednesday, June 8.
Here is what we know:
• Dwight D'Evelyn update 7:25 p.m.: "Per BLM --- fire estimated at 400 acres -- aircraft created a line of fire suppression material around the east side of the town -- fire has laid down in some areas, but very active in others -- Deputies continue to evacuate residents, and are focusing on those with handicaps -- Ambulance service has made several runs to assist n this efforet-- so far, no injuries have been reported."
• Dwight D'Evelyn update: "Update at 6:25 p.m. – the fire is currently concentrated on the east side of Yarnell which is under a mandatory evacuation – The shelter has been designated as Yavapai College in Prescott Arizona --- fire estimated at 300 acres – 1 building has been burned – Arizona BLM is the Command agency regarding fire suppression efforts --- several water dropping aircraft on scene including helicopter and a large jet ---- no injuries reported – cause is unknown at this time."
• YCSO now evacuating the west side of Yarnell via Code Red.
• BLM has named this fire the "Tenderfoot Fire."
• Highway 89 is closed in both directions in the Yarnell and Peeples Valley area between mileposts 275 and 282, according to the Arizona Department of Transportation.
• Fire now at 300 acres, aircraft reports.
• Prescott Fire Dept's Foam 73, the airport crash truck, is working to support aircraft headed to and from Yarnell.
• Winds West-Southwest, gusts up to 20 mph through sunset, per National Weather Service.
• YCSO shutting down Highway 89 through town.
• From sheriff's spokesman Dwight D'Evelyn, 4:54 p.m.: "YCSO is currently in the town of Yarnell conducting evacuations along the east side of Yarnell due to a brush fire threatening structures."
• Entire town now being notified; east side being told to evacuate residents told to go to Yavapai College in Prescott.
• Evacuations have started.
• Fire is getting close to a radio tower.
• A US Forest Service 20-man handcrew is en route as are aircraft.
• The Sheriff's Rescue-1 helicopter has been launched to go take a look at the fire.
• Initial report at 3:30 p.m.: Fire is 2 acres, and it is moving toward structures.
• YCSO is using its Code Red system to notify residents of the danger but is NOT yet calling for evacuations. Deputies are going door-to-door to notify people.
The Daily Courier will continue to update this story as details are made available.
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