Wildfires aren’t uncommon in northern Arizona, where dry grasses cover much of the region. This year alone, the area has already seen 516 wildfires. Of those, 510 were reportedly human-caused, including the latest, called Viewpoint Fire, which has been consuming an area just north of Prescott Valley since Friday.
The fire, which resulted in evacuations for Poquito Valley and hundreds of displaced residents, had been 80% contained by Saturday morning, according to AZ Central. Yavapai Community College was open to evacuated residents and the Coors Event Center at the Yavapai County Fairgrounds was open for large animals. A spokesman for the Yavapai County Sheriff's Office, Dwight D'Evelyn, reported that Antelope Meadows is also open to residents.
Discovered only on Friday afternoon, by Friday evening officials reported that the Viewpoint Fire had burned 5,100 acres, destroying an estimated 12 buildings. Fire crews continued to monitor the fire throughout Saturday, and Poquito Valley was later reopened to residents.
The fire came to fruition because of a combination of strong winds, low humidity, and dry grasses and vegetation. These created the perfect “critical fire weather conditions,” noted the National Weather Service from Flagstaff. Because of the aforementioned problems that the state has seen with human-caused fires, Stage 2 fire restrictions that forbid outdoor burning and campfires, even in developed campgrounds, were issued last week. The restrictions also limit target shooting, smoking, fireworks, welding and the use of chainsaws on public lands.
According to Tiffany Davila, a public affairs officer for the Arizona Department of Forestry and Fire Management, Arizona fire officials have been trying to initiate faster response times for controlling wildfires.
The Viewpoint Fire is just one of two wildfires that Arizona has been fighting this weekend. A fire called the Pinery Fire started in the area south of Pinery Canyon in the Chiricahua Mountains on Saturday afternoon as a grassfire and grew to 1200 acres by the nighttime. This fire was also deemed to be human-caused.