Goodwin Fire now 96 percent contained as areas burn out

Jul 5, 2017, 8:35 PM | Updated: Jul 8, 2017, 9:49 pm

PHOENIX — Firefighters continue to make progress on the Goodwin Fire near Prescott and had contained about 96 percent of the blaze as of Saturday, officials said.

As of 10 p.m. on Saturday, the fire had grown to 28,516 acres, up from 27,541 the previous Sunday evening.

There were still 98 personnel working the fire that had forced the evacuations of thousands or residents in a half-dozen communities and came close to the town of Mayer.

An update on the matter read that some areas of the fire would continue to burn out.

Evacuation orders were lifted before the weekend for Blue Hills, Upper Blue Hills, Dewey-Humboldt and all are west of SR 69.

More were lifted Monday for the communities of Walker, Potato Patch, Mt. Union, Mountain Pine Acres, Pine Flat, Poland Junction.

State Route 69 reopened on Friday after being closed due to the fire.

The incident commander got a big cheer at a community meeting Thursday night when he announced crews had secured lines around about 43 percent of the blaze, which has consumed about 45 square miles (116.55 sq. kilometers) of brush and forest. Still, John Pierson warned several hundred people that the fire could become more active and cause more damage.

“We’re still not out of the woods yet,” Pierson told those gathered in a church in Prescott Valley.

Earlier on Thursday, the agency said the fire had grown to nearly 25,000 acres, but some evacuees were allowed to return home.

Thousands of residents had been told to evacuate. Mayer residents, who were sent to safety early in the week, have been allowed to return to their homes.

The fire was about 14 miles south of the Yavapai County city of Prescott.

Some structures had been lost, but it was unknown if they were homes or other buildings.

Residents on the west side of State Route 69 in Dewey-Humboldt were told to leave town Tuesday, just a day after Mayer and the surrounding areas were ordered to clear out.

Poland Junction and Chaparral Hills had also been ordered to evacuate. Pine Flat had already been evacuated.

Not everyone is following instructions. Despite a warning from the Federal Aviation Administration to drone operators to not fly their devices near the fire, a drone interrupted firefighting efforts Wednesday.

Battalion Chief Todd Abel of Central Arizona Fire District said helicopters that were going to drop buckets of water onto an area were forced away because of a drone flying nearby.

“We had to shut down all the aircraft, we could not help the firefighters from keeping fire from those structures,” he said.

A Red Cross shelter for evacuees was set up at Bradshaw High School in Prescott Valley.

“Make sure they have their prescription medication, water, some food, their pets — just be prepared and ready to go if and when the sheriff’s office comes calling, telling you, ‘You need to leave,'” Tiffany Davila with the Arizona Department of Forestry and Fire Management said.

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey released a statement Wednesday, part of which read: “I want the residents of Yavapai County to know the Goodwin Fire is the state of Arizona’s top priority right now, and we remain fully engaged on the ground with our partners.

“Not only do our hearts go out to those who have been displaced, but our attention and resources are focused heavily on containing the fire and protecting property and lives.”

He later declared a state of emergency that allowed him to send $200,000 toward firefighting and aid efforts.

The governor traveled to Yavapai County on Thursday.

State Route 69 reopened on Friday after being shut down Tuesday afternoon between Interstate 17 and Fain Road because of the fire. State Route 169 was also closed between I-17 and SR 69 because of the blaze.

Drivers should expect delays on any alternate route.

The Forest Service said multiple campgrounds in the Prescott National Forest were closed. Reservations for the next two weeks were canceled. No new reservations could be made.

Campers were eligible for full refunds.

High temperatures, wind and dry chaparral and Ponderosa pines were contributing to erratic burning.

The Southwest Coordination Center, which is in charge of planning firefighting efforts in Arizona and other states, said it had sent its Type 1 incident command team to oversee the fight.

Six hot shot crews, 10 Type II crews, 29 engines, four helicopters and two air attack planes were being used to battle the flames.

On Friday, Ducey declared a state of emergency to free up more funds to combat wildfires.

“I’m issuing [Friday]’s declaration to make sure they have every resource needed to do their jobs and protect our communities,” Ducey said in a release.

KTAR’s Jim Cross and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Goodwin Fire now 96 percent contained as areas burn out