PHOENIX — A wildfire that has burned at least 9,600 acres has forced the evacuation of another small Arizona town for the second time in two weeks, officials said.
Navajo County officials said Wednesday the town of Forestdale was evacuated because of the Cedar Fire, which was formerly known as the Cedar Creek Fire.
Pre-evacaution orders were given for the Show Low, Pinetop-Lakeside, McNary, Fort Apache and Hon-Dah communities.
The fire was spreading — up to 9,652 acres Friday — up from around 8,500 acres the previous day, but officials said crews were making progress.
The blaze was first reported west of Show Low, Arizona, about a three-hour drive east of the Phoenix area.
The fire had grown enough that smoke was making its way to the Phoenix area.
Evacuees were originally told to go to Snowflake Junior High School, where the Red Cross had established a shelter, but the location was changed to Snowflake High School to better accommodate the needs of evacuees.
Show Low Mayor Daryl Seymore said there hadn’t been any evacuations out of Show Low yet. He said that everyone needs to be prepared.
U.S. 60, one of the main roads in the area, was closed at the junction with State Route 73. The junction is south of Show Low.
The White Mountain Independent reported area residents should not call 911, as operators were overwhelmed. Instead, they were asked to call 311 to get information on the fire.
More than 600 firefighters were battling the flames.
A pair of DC-10 tankers were waiting at Mesa Gateway Airport for deployment, if necessary. Another tanker had been requested, but it was diverted to a fire in California.
Power was cut to the towns of Carrizo, Cedar Creek, Cibecue and Forestdale so crews could have better and safer access to fight the fire.
The cause of the Cedar Creek Fire is unknown.
Gov. Doug Ducey issued a statement regarding the Cedar Creek Fire.
“I have instructed my senior staff, the State Forester, the Department of Emergency and Military Affairs and the Department of Public Safety to provide all necessary support to local and federal agencies as they work to control the fire and protect the Pinetop-Lakeside, Show Low and White Mountain Apache communities from danger. This area has experienced severe wildfires before, so the state is on high alert given the additional risks posed by current weather conditions. Whether it’s resources, support or backup, we stand at the ready to provide fire officials and our brave and talented first responders with all they need to safeguard Arizonans from this fire.”
Last week, the town of Yarnell in north-central Arizona was evacuated after the Tenderfoot Fire erupted nearby.
The town was also evacuated in 2013 by the same blaze that killed 19 Granite Mountain Hotshots.
The Tenderfoot Fire has since been brought under control, but it already burned thousands of acres near the town and destroyed at least three structures.
KTAR’s Jim Cross and Tyler Klaus contributed to this report.