Trusted local news leader for Prescott area communities since 1882
Fri, March 22

Storms spark fire, flash flooding, tornado

The Daily CourierViolent thunderstorms this past weekend led to the rescue of five people in floodwaters, a tornado sighting, a torched home and localized flooding.

With more areas seeing more rain, the Prescott National Forest and local fire agencies including those in rural Yavapai County, Prescott, Central Yavapai and Mayer are dropping all their fire-use restrictions Wednesday.

Central Yavapai Fire District firefighters rescued five Dewey residents Saturday after a heavy downpour led to flooding on Cherry Road about 1.5 miles north of Highway 169, just outside the district's boundary.

Two men and three children were riding on three all-terrain vehicles along Cherry Road about 3:30 p.m. Saturday when a torrential rain hit, Central Yavapai Fire Marshal Charlie Cook said.

They sought refuge under a tree and then saw a wall of water coming at them, so they scrambled up a tree, Cook related. The water washed their ATVs away as they used their cell phone to call 911 for help.

The water was receding as rescuers arrived so they were able to walk to the tree, Cook said. They found two of the ATVs lodged under mud and debris. About a half-mile of the road was impassable but everyone walked out safely.

"These people were very fortunate," said Cook, who warned people to watch out for flash flooding during the monsoon. In this case, the wall of water didn't even come down a confined area such as a canyon, he said.

The same storm produced a bolt of lightning that caught a home on fire in the Coyote Springs subdivision north of Prescott Valley.

The high winds fueled the flames so quickly that the home was a total loss, Cook said.

"There was no chance" to save it, said Rod Lopez of the Central Yavapai Fire District. "The wind just took it."

The homeowner had just finished the $200,000 residence and was planning to move in this week, Lopez said. The owner was living in a travel trailer next to the home but was gone at the time of the fire.

Another violent storm prompted tornado and thunderstorm warnings from the National Weather Service Sunday as it formed near Payson and held its strength all the way to the Cordes Junction area.

A trained spotter reported the funnel cloud about 6:15 p.m. near Interstate 17 about a mile north of the Sunset Point Rest Area, said Clair Ketchum, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Flagstaff.

Another person reported winds of 65 mph in the Cordes area that blew the roof off a carport, but the Weather Service and Mayer Fire District didn't hear of any other damage from that storm.

One gauge along Highway 69 at Big Bug Creek recorded 0.51 inches of rain during that storm.

The chance for thunderstorms continues daily for the coming week, causing temperatures to cool down after the Prescott airport tied a heat record of 99 degrees Friday.


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