Weekend wrap-up: Here are the biggest Arizona stories from June 10-12

Jun 12, 2022, 6:00 PM
(ADOT Photo)...
(ADOT Photo)
(ADOT Photo)

PHOENIX — A wildfire burning six miles north of Flagstaff forced evacuations and road closures on Sunday, Arizona Sens. Kyrsten Sinema and Mark Kelly announced a bipartisan proposal agreement on gun safety legislation and the Phoenix Police Department is investigating the death of a 19-year-old man in police custody.

Here are some of the biggest stories that headlined the Arizona news cycle over the weekend.

Wildfire burning a few miles north of Flagstaff forces evacuations, road closures

A wildfire sparked six miles north of Flagstaff Sunday morning, prompting officials to issue evacuations and road closures for people in the area.

A ‘GO’ order for evacuation was issued for Schultz Pass Road, Arizona Snowbowl and Timberline South of Brandis.

Doney Park, Mt. Elden Lookout road and estates are now in ‘SET’ position and should begin preparing in the event an evacuation order is issued.

The blaze, known as the Pipeline Fire, started sometime before 10:15 a.m. just west of Schultz Pass and burned about 1,000 acres by 2 p.m., while remaining active on all sides, according to InciWeb.

Arizona Sens. Kyrsten Sinema, Mark Kelly announce bipartisan agreement

Arizona’s Democratic U.S. senators Kyrsten Sinema and Mark Kelly announced a bipartisan proposal agreement on Sunday along with 18 other senators on gun safety legislation.

The agreement covers the topics of support for state crisis intervention orders, investment in children and family mental health services, protections for victims of domestic violence, funding for school-based mental health and supportive services among others listed in a press release.

The agreement aims to protect children, families and students while protecting the constitutional rights of gun owners in America. Leaders hope to push any agreement into law quickly — they hope this month — before the political momentum fades that has been stirred by the recent mass shootings in Buffalo, New York, and Uvalde, Texas.

Department investigating death of 19-year-old in Phoenix police custody

The Phoenix Police Department is investigating the death of a 19-year-old man in police custody on Friday, authorities said.

Officers were called to a business around 2:45 p.m. near 91st Avenue and McDowell Road about an injured or sick person, police said in a press release.

When they arrived they found Caleb Blair rolling on the ground with no shirt on and with his pants around his ankles, police said. They also said he was showing signs of impairment.

Blair was placed in handcuffs and taken to a shaded area while the fire department evaluated him.

Authorities said while Blair was undergoing treatment he lost consciousness, his handcuffs were removed and he was given life saving measures. He was taken to a local hospital where he died.

Phoenix heads into scorching weekend by breaking 44-year-old daily heat record

It’s only going to get hotter in Phoenix the next couple of days, which is a bad omen considering a 44-year-old daily record was broken on Friday.

The mercury reached 112 degrees at about 2:10 p.m., surpassing the previous high for June 10 of 111 degrees set in 1978, according to the National Weather Service.

An excessive heat warning is in effect for Phoenix through 8 p.m. Sunday.

From 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day during the excessive heat warning, Phoenix will close Camelback Mountain’s Echo and Cholla trails and all trails associated with Piestewa Peak Trailhead.

More than half of Arizona’s counties at medium or high COVID-19 community level

With COVID-19 cases on the rise, more than half of Arizona’s 15 counties are now at medium or high community levels for the virus, according to federal health officials.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention classified Apache and Navajo counties in the high COVID community level this week, while Maricopa, Mohave, Coconino, Gila, Pima and Cochise are at medium. Arizona’s seven other counties are in the low range.

The CDC updates the nationwide county levels every Thursday. Designations are based on the rate of new COVID-19 hospital admissions, the share of staffed hospital beds occupied by COVID patients and the rate of new cases in the community.

The Arizona Department of Health Services documented more than 14,000 new cases on Wednesday, the largest batch since the state started updating its COVID-19 dashboard on weekly basis three months ago. The state stopped updating the dashboard hospitalization data at the end of March.

“COVID-19 cases have risen week-to-week since early April, though they remain far below levels seen during the winter surge fueled by the omicron variant,” Don Herrington, ADHS interim director, said in a blog post Friday.

“COVID-19 hospitalizations remain low but have been gradually increasing.”

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Weekend wrap-up: Here are the biggest Arizona stories from June 10-12