Cellar Fire forces evacuation in Arizona

Posted at 7:55 AM, Jul 19, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-19 09:55:20-04

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    PRESCOTT, AZ (KPHO/KTVK) — The Cellar Fire near Prescott forced the mandatory evacuation of Pine Flat on Thursday, the Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office said.

Residents received the “Go” message at around 4 p.m.

“It’s stressful on everybody and everything we have worked for to get,” said Howard Coatney, who evacuated from Pine Flat. “It’s kind of tough, but we have our animals, and we have everyone safe, and nobody is dead so we’re good.”

The Red Cross has set up an emergency shelter at Prescott High School. It’ll provide warm meals, a safe place to sleep and emotional support for evacuees, the Red Cross said.

For assistance, YCSO said to call 928-771-3260 or 911.

Crews say the fire was about a mile and a half from Senator Highway when Pine Flat was evacuated.

There are no state highway closures due to the Cellar Fire, the Arizona Department of Transportation said.

The flames have burned 7,008 acres, firefighters said.

“We’re hoping to have this completed to the point where our risks are mitigated in less than 14 days,” said Jason Clawson, the operations sections chief with Southwest Area Team 1. “10 days is our goal.”

The fire is burning about 16 miles south of Prescott.

Prescott National Forest says the fire was likely caused by lightning and has zero containment.

There are nearly 370 firefighters battling the flames. They said an air tanker was effective in slowing down the fire’s spread on the east side.

The Southwest Type 1 Incident Management Team took over the Cellar Fire Thursday morning.

Currently, no structures are threatened.

As a precaution, Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office issued on Wednesday a Code Red for “Ready,” also known as a pre-evacuation notice, for the communities of Walker, Groom Creek, Wolf Creek, Potato Patch, Crown King and Indian Creek.

Deputies say about 100 people are impacted.

Crystal Makinson has been spending time driving large items and belongings to a family’s home in New River.

“Emotionally out of control. I’m tired. I’m exhausted trying to get everything out from up here. We just did this last, couple years ago with our family,” said Makinson.

She’s also been helping other neighbors move their important items.

“We all work together. Everyone up here loves everybody and we all help each other. It’s a very close-knit community. If you can’t be there to move things, everyone helps,” said Makinson.

Coatney has about 20 animals on his property and is moving them to safety.

“We’re not going to leave them in the fire,” said Coatney.

He said he’s lived in the area for 17 years and this is the sixth time he’s been evacuated.

“There’s a lot of mixed feelings. It’s not a great time, just to go over and over again,” said Coatney. “We pick and choose where we live and we wouldn’t have it any other way.”

For information on the Code Red issued please call (928) 771-3321

The junction 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 is closed.

Mayer-Bolander Road (Country Road 177) is closed from the western boundary of Pine Flat west to Forest Road 52 (Senator Highway).

For more fire information, call 928-925-1111 or go to

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