Apr 20, 2022

Authorities give update on Tunnel Fire near Flagstaff 4/19/22 Transcript

Authorities give update on Tunnel Fire near Flagstaff 4/19/22 Transcript
RevBlogTranscriptsAZAuthorities give update on Tunnel Fire near Flagstaff 4/19/22 Transcript

Residents north of Flagstaff are being told to evacuate due to a fast-moving wildfire driven by high winds 4/19/22. Read the transcript here.


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Sheriff Driscoll: (00:00)
… that try to get the residents back into those areas as soon as we safely can do that. And that decision is made in collaboration with the fire staff leadership on the fire and my office. Again, we don’t want to put people into harm’s way but we want to provide them that opportunity to get back as soon as we can reasonably and safely do so. This was a very difficult evacuation procedure. The rapid movement and progression of this fire made the evacuation much more difficult and complicated than we’ve had in the past. We had deputies and other law enforcement agencies right next to the fire evacuating homes and animals from many of those residences. We did have some difficulty getting some people to leave, and we’re still trying to confirm those that may have chosen to stay in their neighborhoods and not honor the mandatory evacuation, but I do want to thank everyone and especially the fire officials for the cooperation that they’ve shown, the communications that we have had have been really phenomenal.

Sheriff Driscoll: (01:19)
As we talked a little bit beforehand, we’re starting to get pretty good at this. An unfortunate situation, but we’ve been here before, and we’re learning how to do this I think a little bit more effectively. I would like to state that we appreciate the law enforcement assistance from the Arizona Department of Public Safety, Forest Service Law Enforcement, National Park Service, Arizona Game and Fish, Flagstaff Police Department, and the Coconino County Public Works. All of us were out there evacuating people and again, the fire was moving so fast many of those officers were in harm’s way themself. And I’m very proud of the fact that we were able to get this evacuation done despite the rapid progression of the fire. So with that, if… I don’t know if you want to wait for questions or-

Speaker 1: (02:17)
[inaudible 00:02:17] questions.

Sheriff Driscoll: (02:17)

Speaker 2: (02:17)
I’ll take another question.

Sheriff Driscoll: (02:17)
All right. [inaudible 00:02:20].

Speaker 2: (02:22)
Thank you, Sheriff. We will now turn it over to the Forest Service officials from Coconino National Forest to answer, to give a brief update. Excuse me.

Matt McGrath: (02:39)
Good evening everyone. My name is Matt McGrath. I’m the district ranger here on the Flagstaff Ranger District on the Coconino National Forest. Thank you very much Sheriff Driscoll for that introduction and those comments. I wanted to let folks know some background on the Tunnel fire. It was first called in on Sunday afternoon, approximately 4:30 in the afternoon. We have resources on the fire on yesterday and the day before. And we currently have a Type 1 team ordered, expect them to start trickling in tomorrow into the next day. And we’ll be in briefing that Type 1 team no later than Thursday morning. A fire investigation team has been ordered. They will be on scene tomorrow to help identify the cause of the fire and how it has progressed. I want to ask True Brown; the district manager, fire management officer for the Flagstaff Ranger District to give you an operational update.

True Brown: (03:39)
Thank you, Matt. Thank you, Sheriff Driscoll. Again, my name’s True Brown. I’m the fire management officer here on the Flagstaff Ranger District with a quick operational update. At this time, the fire is currently estimated upwards of 6,000 acres, 0% contained. At this time, we currently have over 200 personnel working actively on the incident right now, including 5 hand crews, 15 engines, and 3 bulldozers with more on order. And that includes a mix of both wildland and structure engines out there. It’s a coordinated effort with all those resources and partners that were listed by Sheriff Driscoll here. The fire is rapidly moving in a north easterly direction with the significant winds that we’ve experienced today and the conditions.

True Brown: (04:35)
It’s approximately 14 miles north of Flagstaff. We did have aviation resources ordered and on scene earlier today, very early as this fire was moving, but had to set those resources down due to the pretty much unprecedented winds that we were experiencing out here on the fire. Primary objectives are obviously firefighter, public safety and then private property, infrastructure, communication sites, and keeping people out of the way and out of the fire area. I cannot stress enough how rapidly this fire is moving in a northeasterly direction. And folks, if they are under an evacuation order cannot stress how important it is to leave the fire area.

True Brown: (05:28)
Smoke is going to be ever present here in the area and just want to make sure people are aware with that incident management team coming in on Thursday. We have a Northern Arizona, Type 3 organization that’s going to be looking at transitioning as well tomorrow. Current operational plans are going to be patrolling the area and trying to secure as much of the uncontrolled fires edge as possible right now. So with that, I will… Are we taking questions now or…

Speaker 2: (06:02)

Sheriff Driscoll: (06:03)
We’ll take questions now.

True Brown: (06:03)
Okay. Sorry about that.

Patrice Horstman: (06:05)
All right. Well, good evening. My name is Patrice Horstman. I’m Chair of the Board of Supervisors. And as you know, this is not the first time wildfire has been experienced in the greater Timberline area. This area has lived through the Schultz fire and flooding in 2010 and is now unfortunately experiencing the Tunnel fire. As everybody has said, it’s a very difficult time. And we want everyone to know that the county is here for you now and will be here for you during the entire recovery project. I really appreciate the efforts of the fire crews, our sheriff’s department, and all of our first responders.

Patrice Horstman: (07:11)
The Tunnel fire has been fueled by high winds and dry conditions. And the county has deployed all available resources. We have requested assistance from the state of Arizona and the federal government. Our emergency operations center opened at 2:00 PM this afternoon for response support and coordination, as well as coordination with both state and federal resources and agencies. Recovery support has also been requested through the state. For those that have been evacuated, the American Red Cross has set up a shelter information at Sinagua Middle School at 3950 East Butler Avenue here in Flag. And for those that need a place to house their pets, please bring them to the Coconino Humane Association at 3501 East Butler Avenue also here in Flagstaff. Some of you may know, High Country Humane has also been evacuated.

Patrice Horstman: (08:14)
Now the estimation in the evacuation area goes like this: approximately 2,068 people live in the area, from this, 766 households have been evacuated, over a thousand animals have been evacuated. As Chair of the Board of Supervisors and on behalf of Coconino County, we have declared a local emergency. Both the supervisor for this district, District 2 Jeronimo Vasquez and myself are asking our residents, please be vigilant, stay tuned to Coconino County Emergency Notification.

Patrice Horstman: (08:56)
Be fire wise and cooperate and abide by these safety notifications. Please also go to coconino.az.gov/tunnelfire for the most recent information. Be safe. The county is updating this website with information as it becomes available. This is a time as we’ve done in the past for neighbors to help neighbors. The county will be here to support everyone during this very difficult time, but together as we’ve done before, we need to be here all together as one to get through this. So once again, thank you very much for being here and to our fire crew, our safety responders, our law enforcement, our sheriff’s department. Thank you so much. Appreciate it. And with that now, are you… Is there anyone else? Are you ready for questions?

Speaker 2: (09:56)
Ready for question. Thank you, Chair Horstman. We will now open it up to questions.

Speaker 3: (10:04)
[inaudible 00:10:04].

Speaker 2: (10:04)
Thank you, Chair [Horseman 00:10:01]. We will now open it up to questions.

Speaker 4: (10:05)
We also have Brian Klimowski here with the National Weather Service.

Speaker 2: (10:07)
Yes, and if there are any questions related to weather conditions, we have Brian Klimowski from the National Weather Service who can answer questions. This gentleman, he had his hand up first.

Speaker 5: (10:17)
[inaudible 00:10:17]. I know you said some people are not [inaudible 00:10:19] injuries or deaths?

Speaker 2: (10:24)
For that question, we’ll go to Sheriff Driscoll.

Sheriff Driscoll: (10:28)
Okay. We’ve noticed so many people, but we’re not sure whether or not people got out. We did get calls that one person was trapped in his house. His house was on fire and couldn’t get out. We couldn’t get back up to that area because the fire was already in it. So we don’t know if he made it out or not. And we did get several other calls we’re not sure about, where people said their children, juveniles, were at home by themselves. We got to several of those homes and nobody was there. So until we have that opportunity to get back in physically to those neighborhoods and physically check the homes, it’s going to be hard to say.

Speaker 5: (11:12)
And I know you don’t know exactly how many structures. Ballpark, are we talking dozens? Are we talking hundreds of structures [inaudible 00:11:18]?

Sheriff Driscoll: (11:19)
I think at this point, we know that we have about two dozen structures that have been lost. At least two dozen. But several hundred more are threatened still. And again, we haven’t been into all those areas just because of the severity of the fire right now. And we don’t want to jeopardize the safety of firefighters or our law enforcement folks.

Speaker 5: (11:40)
And this is probably for the forestry folks. You described this fire as moving so quickly and fast. I mean, how fast are we talking about right now?

True Brown: (11:53)
Yeah. So the question was, how quickly is the fire moving currently and was it? It was moving and is continuing to move at miles per hour. That’s what we’re measuring it in. Really, from what we’ve seen, it’s spotting well in front of itself and then moving very quickly with the main fire. So certain parts are moving slower, i.e. towards the heel, but towards the head of it when it gets a full force of the wind, it’s moving multiple miles per hour.

Speaker 5: (12:30)
And I know that just based off of past fire [inaudible 00:12:32], fires moving that fast, it’s very hard to fight. Not only do you not have [inaudible 00:12:37], but firefighters themselves actually fight this fire or will they just [inaudible 00:12:41]?

True Brown: (12:42)
No. When fire is moving that rapidly, really the best course of action is really just getting folks out of the way. That includes the general public, and that’s where the focus of effort has been. In places where we have felt it’s safe to engage, we have put people in there, particularly as soon as that fire front passes, immediately engaging behind that to help save and protect any structures we can. But a lot of the time, it’s getting folks out of the way. And when we’re talking flame lengths upwards of 100 plus feet, there’s really no piece of aviation or equipment that is going to be able to slow that down or stop it. So it’s really getting life safety first and foremost, and that includes the responders.

Speaker 6: (13:34)
I had a question, too, about sort of initially [inaudible 00:13:38] was talking about that this is starting early. It was [inaudible 00:13:38] this morning. Was there an opportunity to stand on that fire over the weekend or Monday? Or what prevented that from happening?

Matt McGrath: (13:48)
So as I said, it was called in initially Sunday afternoon. This has been a full suppression fire from the very beginning. And we have the fire investigation team coming tomorrow to identify the cause and help us understand how it progressed to where we are.

Speaker 6: (14:00)
Do you have any sense of whether it’s human caused or whether there’s-

Matt McGrath: (14:05)
Not at this time. I do not. No.

Speaker 5: (14:06)
It has to be human caused. There was no lighting, right?

Matt McGrath: (14:09)
I’m not aware of any, but I’m not the fire investigator so I can’t tell you for sure. I haven’t been out there to the site. So when the investigator goes out, they’ll almost certainly identify the cause.

Speaker 7: (14:19)
Sir, was this the earliest that you’ve seen this level of wild fire and [inaudible 00:14:23]?

Matt McGrath: (14:21)
You that one?

True Brown: (14:29)
The conditions that we’re facing that have been spoken to are, we talk about fire years and how the fire season is extending. We have seen conditions such as this. A couple years ago, there was the tinder fire down on the Mogollon Rim Ranger District of the Coconino that experienced conditions such as this; these higher winds, dry fuel conditions. But it is something that is becoming more and more common, unfortunately. And the next couple days, as folks are witnessing down on Prescott on the Crooks Fire, we have a lot of potentially large fire growth days ahead of us. And that’s what we’re looking at right now.

Speaker 8: (15:14)
Do you think it will change with how windy it’s supposed to be over the next few days, that you guys will actually be able to get [inaudible 00:15:20]?

True Brown: (15:23)
The folks on the ground, the specialists are looking at that and assessing that constantly to see when we can get those air assets up and helping out. We did have a fire watch module that came up and helped with some mapping and some intelligence from the air, but the actual tactical resources, we have been unable to fly, although we are assessing that constantly.

Speaker 9: (15:51)
Can you talk about wind shifting and how nervous you are about that? Or are you confident [inaudible 00:15:56] right now?

True Brown: (15:58)
So actually going to turn that over to Brian Klimowski with the National Weather Service, and he’ll be able to speak to that with better accuracy than I will. Thanks, Brian.

Brian Klimowski: (16:21)
All right. Thank you, [True 00:16:22]. Indeed, we’re going to have strong winds overnight, continuing gusting to 35 to 45 until midnight, slowly decreasing thereafter. Tomorrow, we should see relief from the strong winds. Current forecast has winds continuing, let’s say 15 to 20, gusts to 25 through tomorrow, and then through much of the week ahead. Again, we have another system coming in late this week, perhaps Friday, which is going to bring strong winds once again to the area. Somebody had asked about wind shifts. Right now, it looks like overnight as the inversion forms, the strongest winds will pull a little bit closer and closer to the mountain flanks, as those in Doney Park are probably pretty familiar with. But we aren’t expecting any significant wind shifts within this regime right now. So these strong southwesterly winds becoming lighter overnight, re-engaging tomorrow, gusting up to 25 tomorrow.

Lucinda: (17:23)
Brian, can you speak to how quickly the winds came up this morning? Because I know for us, going in early to work, there was no wind. And then within like two hours, it was 50 miles an hour.

Brian Klimowski: (17:33)

Lucinda: (17:39)
I know we were watching the wind gusts and watching [inaudible 00:17:39] and it was over 50 a lot of that period through the day.

Brian Klimowski: (17:44)
Yeah. It’s what we see here in Northern Arizona in the springtime where the overnight inversions bring down the winds quite a bit, but there’s yet strong winds aloft. And as those winds mix down to the surface, as the ground warms, the sun rises, those strong winds can just immediately impact the area, but especially downstream of our mountain barriers. That’s where we see the mountain waves form. It’s exactly what happened today.

Speaker 10: (18:12)
This is the start as you mentioned [inaudible 00:18:19]. Any thought about closing the forest at this point?

Matt McGrath: (18:29)
Thank you. Sorry. So we meet weekly with our partners and we’ve already started having those cooperative meetings. We meet every Monday where we talk about current indices and fire restrictions. And generally, we base those on fuel moistures, predicted weather, where we are in the season, the amount of resources available in terms of firefighting and prevention, and then also just the human factor involved in trying to balance our multiple use mission of visitor use and also protection of the forest in our communities. So we have not had those discussions yet on what day that will be. But I think this will factor into that as we continue to meet with our partners in the future going forward.

Speaker 10: (19:17)
So it sounds like it’s not [inaudible 00:19:17].

Matt McGrath: (19:17)
I can’t say when, but we closed the forest last year. We did it three years before that it, when it didn’t happen very often before that. So two out of the past couple of years. I think that’s probably going to be a new normal for us going forward.

Ryan: (19:35)
Matt, the [inaudible 00:19:37] opened up just in case. Is there a sense that perhaps delaying that decision assisted with the [inaudible 00:19:46] what we’re seeing now?

Matt McGrath: (19:46)
You know, Ryan, I really don’t know. Almost all of the roads on the district did open this past weekend, including the rest of the forest. And that’s a question that I’m sure the fire investigation team will be looking at how close the ignition was to a road or what evidence is there.

Matt McGrath: (20:02)
… ignition was to erode, or what evidence is there. Impossible for me to tell right now if that had something to do with it.

Brian: (20:06)
Are you guys hearing possible unprecedented fire season, considering that some people [inaudible 00:20:13]?

Matt McGrath: (20:13)
This is unusual for us. And last year was a very difficult year. Previous year was a difficult year. Every year is tough and getting tougher and tougher. So we’re prepared for this year to be similar to the past several, which has been difficult.

Brian: (20:28)
And there are also sad echoes Boulder area. What are your thoughts on the new normal? Could this be it?

Matt McGrath: (20:42)
The wind like this is normal for Flagstaff this time of year. That is something that is normal. And if you have a fire start and you have winds that are gusting in 50 miles an hour, even if it’s not 90 degrees and relative humidities of 2%, which is what we’re used to for extreme fire behavior, when we have of a wind like this, is the question was asked of True, how do you fight a fire like this? And it’s really, it’s not only the Sheriff getting residents out of the way, but we have firefighters off on the side because you just can’t get in the way of something like this, a wind-driven event like this.

Brian: (21:18)
And how are you balancing resources? There’s, I believe, it’s called a start out here, parks, as well. And, obviously, the first fire, there’s a lot going on. How are you doling resources out [inaudible 00:21:29] this fire?

Matt McGrath: (21:29)
So this is very early in our season, as we have said several times. Our hotshot crews just arrived a week ago. And they’ve probably arrived earlier than they have sometimes in the past. That’s, I think, one of the ways that we’ve adjusted as we’ve moved through the years, as our crews come on a little bit earlier. What that does mean is a lot of crews in other parts of the country have not come on yet. And so there won’t be as many people, say, from Montana or Idaho available to come help us now. But fortunately, we have strong relationships with our partners and cooperators, and if we can get a break from the weather and no additional starts, have the resources we need to manage this fire,

Speaker 11: (22:17)
Can you talk about the direction the fire is moving and what’s in its path?

Matt McGrath: (22:17)
Could you talk a little bit about that?

Brian: (22:20)
Can we get you to hold the mics further apart?

True Brown: (22:22)

Brian: (22:22)
That’s creating [inaudible 00:22:24].

True Brown: (22:23)

True Brown: (22:25)
Put this down here? How’s that?

True Brown: (22:27)

True Brown: (22:28)
So the question was, which way the fire is moving and what may be in front of it right now. So currently, the fire is primarily moving, obviously, wind-driven in a north easterly direction based on the forecast that the Weather Service has given us and what we’re seeing on the ground. Out in front of it right now, it’s impacting Sunset Crater National Monument, obviously all the subdivisions that were mentioned by Sheriff Driscoll. And then that’s out on the head of it. We also have the WAPA KV power lines, which are further out. And then we have some smaller in-holdings further out before it transitions over into the reservation, out to the north and east there.

True Brown: (23:21)
Concurrently, it’s also threatening structures, private property, infrastructure, both north and south of the current fire progression right now, too. And I apologize for not having a map to show this, but the flanks, if you will, off of the north and south are also still threatening those subdivisions. Although the primary direction being wind-driven is to the north and east with that southwesterly flow with fire movement to the north and south, along that 89 corridor.

True Brown: (23:55)
As I said before, though, we have those 200-plus folks out there engaging where they can actively and safely get into suppress those fires, or suppress the fires that moves in the subdivision. And those efforts are going to continue right now throughout the night into tomorrow’s shift. And then looking at areas where we can secure it, as well.

Speaker 12: (24:23)
[crosstalk 00:24:23]

True Brown: (24:25)

Speaker 12: (24:25)
Any natural fuel breaks out there?

True Brown: (24:27)
So natural fuel breaks, this is in an area called the Cinder Hills. We do have some large areas that are unvegetated that we’re looking at taking advantage of along with the fuels transitions out to the north and east, where it runs out into grassland and will eventually run out of fuel. And then looking for other opportunities, including manmade roads, any kind of treated area. And it was burning and is burning in the Schultz Fire Scar from 2010.

True Brown: (25:05)
So, Brian, you had a question?

Brian: (25:13)
You’ve seen a lot of fire, True. Have you ever seen fire behave like this?

True Brown: (25:15)
Have I seen a fire behave like this? Unfortunately, yes. Being a wind-driven fire is when you get these kind of winds on any kind of fire, it will move like this. It’s just going back to the time of the year, and how rapidly things spread, and how complex things get so rapidly, is unfortunately, yes, have seen this before. And that is as was stated, what we’re looking at sometimes with the new normal.

Speaker 13: (25:47)
This is for [inaudible 00:26:01], what’s the immediate plan for flood mitigation, what’s the plan, and what is going to be the immediate requirement for sand bagging? And what facilities and services are going to be available?

Speaker 14: (26:08)
You’re not going to give this one to Lucinda Andriani, who is our Flood Control District Director.

Lucinda: (26:16)
So I put a call into the engineering firm that did all the analysis for Schultz and has done all the analysis for Museum. And we’re hopeful that they can get up in the air and maybe do a flight tonight so we can see what’s actually burned. But that, tomorrow, we’ll be taking that information to really look at what exactly has burned. But the benefit, hard to say a benefit, but as everyone out here is aware, we built the structures on forest up there have just operated just phenomenally. Those recovery of those alluvial fans, those big wide areas up there. And the fact that it doesn’t appear, and I’ll find more out from True, but that it hasn’t burned a lot of the really steep slopes up onto the peaks. It’s much less likely. We may see an increase in flow, but it’s a lot less likely that we will see the catastrophic and repetitive, severe flooding that we saw ’10 through ’15, till we got those measures constructed. And those measures are there and they will perform again.

Lucinda: (27:33)
Now I want to get out there and see what’s actually happened to them. As you know, those rundown structures and those terminal trenches all had logs, right? We used logs off the forest. And so did they burn? But the structures are all still there. So I think right now, in talking with him, I’m cautiously optimistic. But we are evaluating that. And if we need to mobilize, like we did before, we will mobilize. And good or bad, we’ve got a long way to go until monsoon.

Lucinda: (28:09)
But no, we’re on it. That was one of my early calls. Thanks for bringing that up. Other questions? Yes, Ma’am?

Speaker 12: (28:26)
So I have a couple of questions. One of which is [inaudible 00:28:29]. Second of all, I have neighbors who have horses and livestock, who can they contact to go in and find out if they’re okay, make sure they have water?

Sheriff Driscoll: (28:52)
Ma’am, as soon as we can get our deputies or other law enforcement people in we will, and we’ll determine as much of those issues as we can. It’s just too dangerous for the people to be in there. And again, this decision will be in collaboration with the fire officials. But we want to get you back into your homes, but we also want to take care of whatever properties, and whether that’s livestock or other animals. Just as soon as it is safe for us to do that. As far as finding out if-

Speaker 12: (29:30)
Who do we contact to find that out?

Sheriff Driscoll: (29:33)
You can contact our office.

Speaker 12: (29:35)

Sheriff Driscoll: (29:36)
Okay? And again, it may take a while, but we will get back with you as soon as we reasonably can.

Speaker 15: (29:50)
[inaudible 00:29:50]

Sheriff Driscoll: (29:51)
Normally, on these fires and the fire folks, I think, can address this better, we need to keep people out of there until it’s safe. And many times that’s several, two days, three days-

Sheriff Driscoll: (30:03)
And many times that’s several, two days, three days. And again, try not to hold me to it. Much of it depends on the fire behavior, too. Like [True 00:30:12] mentioned, the fire’s still active on the flanks, so it could still move into the subdivision, which pushes that timeframe out that much farther.

Speaker 16: (30:30)
Sir, will you be posting the residences that were destroyed on the site so we don’t have to call you and wait for an answer?

Lucinda: (30:30)
There will be a notification process, absolutely.

Sheriff Driscoll: (30:32)
Yes, we will do it. And we will utilize the county’s website to have that done. We will try to do as much communication as we can to those people and plus identify those evacuees to where you can have a number to call. We have our call center operating right now, too.

Lucinda: (30:50)
The call center is operating.

Sheriff Driscoll: (30:50)

Speaker 17: (30:55)
[inaudible 00:30:55] any more briefings tonight?

Speaker 18: (30:59)
Not tonight. Not tonight. No, not tonight. We have time for one more question, then we will have closing remarks by Deputy County Manager, Lucinda Andreani, and District Two County Supervisor, Jeronimo Vasquez.

Lucinda: (31:13)
So as the sheriff indicated when he started his remarks, we went through a similar type situation with the Tinder fire down in the Blue Ridge area in 2018 and which destroyed 32 homes. And we moved in very quickly in terms of the recovery process, cleanup process, worked hand in hand with the state, United Way, a number of other agencies. We got Team Rubicon in to help people clean up. We will start that recovery phase. We will mobilize very quickly, so hang in there with us. You know from Schultz that it takes a while to get organized, but when we do, we will deliver. And so hang in there, hang in there with us. And we care. I hope everybody knows and knows that coming out of Schultz. All right.

Speaker 19: (32:10)
Why wasn’t [inaudible 00:32:11] called in sooner? It was notified Sunday. We still haven’t seen air support. Did they just get called in today? We know the issue in the mountain and how devastating the fires are in this area. It just kind of blows my mind that we didn’t see air support on Sunday or Monday. Instead, we’re seeing [inaudible 00:32:33].

Matt McGrath: (32:33)
Well, the air support was called today. You’re correct, sir. It was not ordered Sunday or Monday. It was ordered today, but it was to the same wind that was driving the fire, prevented it from landing. We will find out when we conduct the investigation, why resources weren’t ordered earlier. I haven’t spoken to any of the folks who are responding at the time, so I can’t specifically answer the question for you, but we will ask those questions in the future and be able to explain to you why the decisions were made the way they were made.

Speaker 18: (33:09)
We will now turn it over to County Supervisor Jeronimo Vasquez for closing remarks.

Jeronimo Vasquez: (33:14)
Good evening, everyone. My name is Jeronimo Vasquez. I’m a supervisor for District Two, so this is the area that the fire’s impacting. And I just wanted to say thank you to all the firefighters and law enforcement that have been trying to save houses and protect people. And to the community, a heartfelt… I’m really pained to see my community go through this, and we just wanted you to know that we’re doing our best and patient with us. And this has moved and progressed really fast, faster than anybody could have predicted. But as Lucinda just mentioned, it takes us a minute to get things going, but once we do, we will make sure that we do our best to protect our communities. So please be patient. We should have more updates tomorrow. It sounds like tonight we’re done, just trying to get through tonight. So thank you, everyone.

Speaker 16: (34:09)
[inaudible 00:34:09]

Speaker 20: (34:09)
Just one more question, Trey, over here.

Speaker 21: (34:12)
Yeah. I’m just a little confused because I did read [inaudible 00:34:15], but I read how the air support basically they didn’t come out because of two factors. One, wind, I understand that. Two, lack of water. I don’t understand the lack of water when we’re in a dry state, we can’t fight fires with water. Don’t they dump the chemicals flights? This is Arizona. It’s like maybe… I know firefighters. I know forest fire management, force management, people in California, and they know how to fight fires. And I saw that fire go out, and it was at 52 acres and was out. And all of a sudden, a day and a half later, my house is threatened, maybe [burnt 00:35:03]. My birds are in the backyard because I couldn’t evacuate them. I had 45 minutes. I left with a freaking half of hamper full of dirty clothes. Okay, and my birds are probably… If they’re not dead from being burned, they’re dead from smoke inhalation. 100 birds. Because I don’t understand how you’re not fighting fires here. Why didn’t the chemical plane come?

Matt McGrath: (35:29)
Those were the planes that were called today.

Speaker 21: (35:31)
They said water. Okay, so it was just because of the wind. I understand the wind.

Matt McGrath: (35:38)
Mm-hmm (affirmative). It wasn’t a lack of water or lack of retardant.

Speaker 21: (35:40)

Matt McGrath: (35:40)
Those are available down in the valley and also in Winslow.

Speaker 21: (35:45)
I hope the investigation gets whoever as we talked about… I’m sure it’s not the fire department. It’s a little bit fishy when a 52 acre fire is out, and a day and a half later, it’s at 6,000 acres. Somebody did something, and whoever did it, I hope they pay.

Matt McGrath: (36:08)
I understand.

Speaker 18: (36:13)
Thank you all very much for being here today. We appreciate you coming. We are very sorry for everything that the community is going through. We are getting resources to the community as fast as we can. For regular updates, please visit www.coconino.az. gov/tunnelfire, where there’s also a situational awareness map available. If you click the top link, which you can follow along the fire status. Thank you again for coming, and we will be in touch with further…

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