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Hundreds Of Evacuees Return Home As Firefighters Work To Contain Tinder Fire

Hundreds of people were allowed back home Friday after a northern Arizona fire destroyed 35 homes. The Tinder Fire is now 48 percent contained.

The fire is no longer advancing north of Payson and has burned 12,567 acres as of Friday.

A long line of cars waited at the roadblock near Clints Well, not far from where the fire started a week ago. People were anxious to see the condition of their homes.

"My home is intact," said Linda Collins, who owns a home in Mogollon Ranch. "I'm one of the fortunate ones. It was very scary. I just had mixed emotions not only for my home, but that my family was going to be safe, also sad for nature itself and the animals, just a variety of emotions."

The Coconino County Sheriff's Office evacuated 1,000 homes Sunday. The wildfire, which has burned almost 20 square miles of forest, was started by an illegal campfire.

"Please enjoy our national forest," Collins said. "But do not [light] fires. There's just too much at risk for everyone and all living beings a part of it."

Although the weather has worked in favor of firefighters, Madelyn Dillon with the U.S. Forest Service officials they are keeping an eye on higher winds and temperatures over the next couple days.

"Certainly the weather helped, right, you know, firefighter have been working day and night shifts and they’ve been aided by measurable precipitation over the past couple days," Dillon said.

Laurel Morales was a senior field correspondent at KJZZ from 2011 to 2020.