The Cellar Fire has grown to more than 7,000 acres and was 0% contained as of Thursday night, according to information provided by Prescott National Forest officials during a community meeting.

Pine Flat Evacuated

Pine Flat was evacuated Thursday as the flames grew closer. Officials set the Code Red alert to “Go” in the “Ready, Set, Go,” evacuation notice used by fire officials to let people know when to evacuate.

The area had been in “Set” mode for several days, according to Jason Clawson of the Type 1 Southwest Area Incident Management Team, during Thursday evening’s community meeting.

“We made a decision based on the current fire activity just to provide plenty of time to go ahead and evacuate Pine Flat,” Clawson said. “The main fire was still about a mile and a half from the Senator Highway, the 52 Road.”

Pine Flat was reopened around 6 p.m. to allow residents to retrieve any items left in their households. Officials did not know how long the area would remain open but Clawson said it depended on the success of ground teams fighting the flames.

“Ready” alerts are in place for the communities of Crown King, Walker, Groom Creek, Wolf Creek, Potato Patch, as well as the area around Indian Creek. A large portion of the Bradshaw Ranger District is closed as well.

“If you are a resident within the closure area [of Bradshaw], you are exempt, so in other words, you may enter into your home unless an evacuation is ordered,” Bradshaw District Ranger Sarah Tomsky said. “Most of the recreation sites in the Prescott Basin are still open, and Crown King is still open.  Other than that, I would absolutely refer you to InciWeb to take a look at that closure area map.”

Getting evacuation alerts 

Dwight D’Evelyn, Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office spokesman, encouraged people to sign up for Code Red at in the “Emergency Notification System” tab. Alerts can be sent out through a cell phone or landline calls, text messages and emails.

D’Evelyn stressed the importance of preparing to leave if the alert comes because there might not be time to take valuables otherwise.

“We all get a little lazy … thinking we’re never going to be the ones to evacuate and suddenly there’s a knock on the door and it’s time to go and you don’t have anything – your valuable papers, medicines, things like that,” D’Evelyn said. “It’s possible once you leave you may not be able to get back in and it’s something to think about.”

People were also encouraged to follow social media updates about evacuation notices. In Pine Flat, volunteers also went door-to-door to alert people of the evacuation.

According to Yavapai County Supervisor Tom Thurman, some people in Pine Flat did not evacuate.

“Please do what you can to be safe,” Thurman said. “I just heard on the radio on the way in there’s some folks that have decided not to leave Pine Flat. Please try to talk them out of that.”

Where the fire is going

The fire was heading northeast and is quickly burning through oak and Manzanita shrubs and chaparral grass, according to Clawson. The fire is slowing down at night in grass areas.

Because of the 2017 Goodwin Fire in the area, much of the growth is new and has not completely dried out.

“If you were to pick a direction for this fire to go, this would be the direction we would want it to go, right into those fuel treatments,” Clawson said.

Firefighting efforts

According to Clawson, efforts on Friday will focus on reinforcing the retardant line that was put in place Thursday to stop the fire from growing. The part of the fire burning near Indian Creek will be fought using aircraft tomorrow as well.

Clawson also touched on the structures at risk, which include several ranches, private houses and infrastructure in the Groom Creek, Walker and Pine Flat communities.

“Right now, crews are doing really good, we’re making really good progress and we’ll continue as long as we need to,” he said.

Read or Share this story: