Fire officials upgrading effort against Cellar Fire; Code Red 'READY' alert issued
No mandatory evacuations in place yet
The Prescott National Forest (PNF) has upgraded its management of the Cellar Fire, a wildfire that was started by lightning near Wagoner on Sunday, July 14.
At about 6,450 acres as of Wednesday evening, the blaze has moved from mostly grass and brush to thick ponderosa pine west of Senator Highway, said Debbie Maneely, a PNF spokesperson.
"Unfortunately, this is a part of the forest we have not done any fuels treatment, so there are a lot of fuels in there to burn," Maneely said.
Given the fire's size and potential risk to populated areas, a Type 1 Incident Management Team has been called in to take over the suppression operation. The team is scheduled to take command at 6 a.m. Thursday, July 18.
"They'll have the skillsets, resources and the folks to look at this and make a strategic suppression plan on it," Maneely said Wednesday morning. "Right now we're just using a Type 3 team, which is mostly just local resources except for the hotshot crews that are here."
Seven hotshot crews, seven air tankers, four helicopters, six Type 2 IA crews, two dozers and 18 fire engines were working the fire on Wednesday evening.
Crews made good progress Tuesday night establishing an anchor point at the southwest corner of the fire and completed burn-out operations along the southern edge of the fire, Maneely said in a release Wednesday evening. Firefighters went directly along the west edge of the fire to the north on Wednesday, and dozers and engines continued with structure protection on two ranches to the west of the fire and at Palace Station to the north, she said.
Air support worked most the day on the north end of the fire, keeping it from moving past Longfellow Ridge.
CODE REDS ISSUED
As a precaution, the Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office issued a Code Red for the community of Pine Flat. The "SET" alert was issued Tuesday night, but no evacuations were in effect as of Wednesday afternoon.
A Code Red also has been issued for the communities of Walker, Groom Creek, Wolf Creek, Potato Patch and Indian Creek. The "READY" alert was issued Wednesday afternoon, but once again no mandatory evacuations were in place for these areas.
For information on the Code Reds issued, call 928-771-3321.
To protect firefighters and emergency responders, the following road closures have been implemented on the Bradshaw Ranger District:
At the junction of Forest Road 52 and Forest Road 261 south to the junction of Forest Road 52 and Forest Road 361; following Forest Road 52 east to Crown King.
Mayer-Bolander Road (County Road 177) is closed from the western boundary of Pine Flat west to Forest Road 52 (Senator Highway).