Tunnel Fire spreads across Hwy. 89 north of Flagstaff, AZ

A Type 1 Incident Management Team has been ordered

Updated 4:09 p.m. MDT April 20, 2022

The National Weather Service has issued a Red Flag Warning for northern Arizona from 11 a.m. until 8 p.m. MST, for 15 to 25 mph winds gusting to 35 and 11 percent relative humidity.

To see all articles about the Tunnel Fire on Wildfire Today, including the most recent, click here.

Updated 11:20 a.m. MDT April 20, 2022

map Tunnel Fire 4 a.m. April 20, 2022
Map of the Tunnel Fire 4 a.m. April 20, 2022. The green line designates the “go”, evacuate now area. The yellow line is the “set”, be prepared to evacuate area.

The Tunnel Fire north of Flagstaff was mapped at approximately 16,625 acres at 4 a.m. Wednesday. The map above shows the go-now evacuation areas in green which affect about 750 homes.

Tuesday afternoon and night the fire burned through the Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument and kept going toward the northeast for another three to four miles. At 4 a.m. Wednesday it was about three miles from burning out of the Coconino National Forest.

The Arizona Department of Transportation reports that US Highway 89 is closed in both directions. There has been no update on the number of structures destroyed since Tuesday when it was announced that 24 had burned. The number was not broken down by residences or outbuildings.

Tunnel Fire, April 19, 2022
Tunnel Fire, April 19, 2022.

The winds on Wednesday are predicted to be less extreme than on Tuesday. The National Weather Service forecast calls for 20 mph winds gusting out of the southwest at 25 mph, with 17 percent relative humidity under clear skies. The wind speeds will increase on Thursday, 23 mph gusting to 35, still out of the southwest and 18 percent relative humidity. Then on Friday the speeds increase to 29 mph gusting to 45 mph from the southwest, but with higher humidity — 30 percent —  and a chance for 0.01 inch of rain Friday afternoon.

The Incident Management Team was apparently too busy Tuesday evening to submit the routine Incident Status Summary report, therefore limiting the amount of specific information available. A Type 1 IMT, Northwest Team 3 with Incident Commander Johnson, has been ordered.

10:13 p.m. MDT April 19, 2022

Map Tunnel Fire, 6:21 p.m. MDT April 19, 2022
Map of the Tunnel Fire, 6:21 p.m. MDT April 19, 2022.

The Tunnel Fire four miles north of the Flagstaff suburbs was very active Tuesday afternoon, spreading across Highway 89 into Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument. Authorities with the Coconino National Forest estimated that by late in the afternoon on Tuesday it had grown to about 6,000 acres.

It was reported at 4:22 p.m. on Sunday April 17 (however some sources say it was on April 18). The cause is under investigation. Coconino County has the official evacuation information.

Tunnel Fire, April 19,2022
Tunnel Fire looking north from Lunar Dr. just south of Silver Saddle, April 19, 2022. Photo by Deborah Lee Soltesz.

Strong southwest winds that pushed the fire to the northeast are predicted to continue through Tuesday night at 30 mph gusting at 40 to 54 mph while the relative humidity remains below 30 percent. On Wednesday the winds will still be out of the southwest, but will decrease to 10 to 20 mph with gusts up to 30 mph while the relative humidity drops to 17 percent. With that forecast the fire will likely remain very active Tuesday night moving northeast.

The Forest Service said Tuesday night that 24 structures had burned.

Firefighting resources assigned include five handcrews, 15 engines, and three dozers. Air tankers were ordered Tuesday afternoon but had to be grounded due to very strong winds.

A Type 1 Incident Management Team has been ordered.

Typos, let us know HERE, and specify which article. Please read the commenting rules before you post a comment.

Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, he continues to learn, and strives to be a Student of Fire.

12 thoughts on “Tunnel Fire spreads across Hwy. 89 north of Flagstaff, AZ”

  1. Bill, thanks for removing comments that don’t reflect our creedo of Duty, Respect, and Integrity. That stuff isn’t welcomed here and those folks need to look for employment outside of the fire service.

  2. From the quals you listed, you should already know that the worlds fire resources are not all in one place at one time to respond, and that it takes time to get stuff there. Which makes you sus. Or just a disgruntled human being with life on the planet.

  3. Pretty standard to leave a fire in containment status and go out the next day to call in controlled; at least that’s how we did it on the Coc in the old days.

  4. Sure, a greater hit it hard IA only makes sense but you’re spoiled on CalFire’s responses. Arizona isn’t California! LR

  5. Those resources are completely appropriate for the area; also, it was so windy air resources were grounded.

  6. Beat it! Why don’t you go offer your services. Maybe staffing is the issue? High winds and no air support on this fire. Winds at 30-40 mph gusts to 50 in 3 ft tall grass. Dunno your fire background but you seem pretty informed so tell me what you would do!

    1. Where exactly were you “jumping out of airplanes with a chainsaw strapped to your back” while working for CalFire? They do not, nor have they ever had a Smokejumping program. Even if they did, I can guarantee you that an entry-level “A” Faller would not be the one running saw, much less exiting the ship with it strapped onto him. Ya kook…

    2. You certainly were not “jump out of perfectly good airplanes with a saw strapped to your back” while employed by an agency that doesn’t have and never had a smokejumper program.


Comments are closed.