Residents Prepare To Evacuate As Cedar Creek Fire Grows To 5,500 Acres

Published: Thursday, June 16, 2016 - 4:47pm
Updated: Friday, June 17, 2016 - 10:38am
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Days after the Tenderfoot fire threatened the tiny town of Yarnell in Central Arizona, another wildfire is threatening several White Mountain communities.  The Cedar Creek fire, which started Wednesday has already burned 5,500 acres -- and it’s growing.  

Thousands of residents in and around Show Low and Pinetop-Lakeside are bracing for word that it’s time to go.

The fire started on the Fort Apache Indian Reservation south of those communities. At a press conference earlier today, Navajo County Sherriff “KC” Clark held up fluorescent green tags and asked residents to place them on their door knobs or mail boxes should they evacuate. He also made it clear that today’s firefighting efforts are quote “pivotal.”

"If we get through today I think we’re going to be alright," said Clark.

The fire is burning about a half-mile from so-called trigger points, meaning if the fire reaches those specific locations, the order will be issued and residents will have about three hours to get out.

On the ground, fire crews conducted burn out operations and created a fire line last evening. A spokesperson for Navajo County says there are more than 300 firefighters on the ground and two air tankers are working to control the blaze, which has reached the treetops, making it easier to spread. It’s the weather that’s the wild card.

"The humidity is low, we’ve got winds gusting up to 28 miles per hour and that creates erratic fire behavior," said Jim Morgan, the Pinetop-Lakeside fire chief. "The fire itself creates its own weather, so that combination makes things unpredictable for us."

Morgan said because of these conditions, he expects the fire to grow significantly. Evacuation centers have been set up in Snowflake, as well as in Springerville-Eager. 

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