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Fire Rips Across 7,000 Acres Of Arizona Land, Continues To Spread

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Hanna Panreck Contributor

A wildfire burning through parts of Arizona has forced evacuations and spread across 7,000 acres of land, according to the U.S. Forest Service.

The Cellar Fire began with a lightning strike that hit a cellar on July 14, 16 miles south of Prescott National Forest, according to a Thursday community meeting. The U.S. Forest Service issued a “code red GO” alert Thursday, forcing residents of Pine Flat to evacuate their homes as the fire continues to spread through areas of Prescott National Forest, a Forest Service incident report said.

The area is home to 20-full time residents, it’s also a popular area for camping and recreation, according to Arizona Central.

“The cellar fire was one of six that started that day,” Type 1 Southwest Area Incident Management Team member Jason Clawson stated in the community meeting.

“We are in direct contact through our liaison with the [Yavapai County] sheriff in the Pine Flats Community, and we made a decision based on the current fire activity just to provide plenty of time to go ahead and evacuate Pine Flats,” Clawson said.

A shelter has been set up at Prescott County high school for those who need to evacuate, according to the Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office. (RELATED: BREAKING: Man Lit Himself On Fire Outside White House)

Air tankers succeeded in slowing the fire’s spread on the east side of the fire and additional air tankers continue to support crews working on the northwest flank of the fire, according to the Forest Service’s incident report.

“Emotionally out of control. I’m tired. I’m exhausted trying to get everything out from up here. We just did this last, couple years ago with my family,” Yavapai County resident Crystal Makinson told CNN.

A warmer and drier weather pattern is forecasted to continue this weekend, which increases the potential for more fires and smoke impact for the surrounding areas, the incident report says.

“Unfortunately here we are again. It’s just something that seems to repeat itself every year here in Yavapai County and Arizona period, let alone the West. Please do what you can to be safe, I just heard on the radio on the way in that there are some folks that decided not to leave Pine Flats, please try to talk them out of that,” Yavapai County Board of Supervisors member Tom Thurman said.

Another fire is expected Friday due to poor humidity control overnight. Fire activity is expected to increase throughout the day, “especially in areas where slopes and winds align,” a recently updated U.S. Forest Service incident report states.

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