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Evacuees From The Tinder Fire In North-Central Arizona May Soon Return Home

Rain and snow have helped firefighters battling the Tinder Fire, which has burned more than 11,000 acres in North-Central Arizona, but hundreds of people remain evacuated.

Now, the Coconino County Sheriff’s Office said it will likely release a plan Thursday for residents to return.

It’s still unknown how many homes have been lost or damaged in the Tinder Fire. Coconino County Sheriff Jim Driscoll said those homeowners are his top priority – and will be the first let back in to the evacuated area.

“We want allow them to go in, on their own and to inspect the damage, to deal with the, sometimes, emotional issues and problems that they may encounter. But we want to give them some time,” he said.  “Then we will allow other residents back in, at a later time, and then finally, we’ll open the road to the public.”

That road is State Route 87, which has been closed for days. The Tinder Fire began on Friday, sparked by an abandoned campfire. Nearly 700 firefighters are working the fire. The recent precipitation and cool weather allowed them to build more fire lines and conduct some prescribed burns around the fire’s southeast perimeter. Crews are now focusing on the fire’s northeastern area.

Stina Sieg was a senior field correspondent at KJZZ from 2013 to 2018.