Tinder Fire containment grows to 79%

- Firefighters continue to make gains on the Tinder Fire, which has charred nearly 16,000 acres as of Saturday.

According to fire officials, the fire is now 79 percent contained. Information available on Inciweb states the fire has burned an estimated 16,309 acres.

Officials say 33 residential and 54 minor structures have been lost in the wildfire.

Meanwhile, a community meeting on the fire was held at 6:00 p.m. Thursday at Winslow High School in Winslow.

On Tuesday, forest officials say the fire was started by an illegal campfire. According to officials, 470 fire personnel, including nine crews, four helicopters, 28 engines, six dozers, two water tenders, and other support personnel are battling the flame. Fire crews, officials say, made "substantial progress" in suppressing and controlling the fire on Tuesday, aided by weather conditions.

"The precipitation that came in, the rain and snow has really moderated what the fire behavior is doing out there," said Fire Behavior Analyst Stewart Turner. "Really good news, because it slows the fire behavior down, and the spread's really reduced, if not taken completely out of the picture."

On-site meteorologist, meanwhile, are keeping an eye on changing weather patterns, and mapmakers are cranking out new guides.

Meanwhile, Coconino County officials say the county, along with the Coconino County Sheriff's Office and the State of Arizona Department of Emergency and Military Affairs, is currently planning a staged re-entry for residents in the Blue Ridge area who were evacuated. However, county officials say they can't begin the staged re-entry process until it ensures the entire area is "completely safe for residents, even though some developed areas have not been directly impacted by the fire".

According to a letter posted by Coconino County on its Facebook page Wednesday afternoon, no timeframe has been identified for initiating a controlled, staged re-entry process. Evacuated residents, meanwhile, are strongly encouraged by Coconino County officials to call the Coconino County Tinder Fire Call Center at (928) 213-2990 and provide their contact information, as it is essential for the county to directly communicate with people on any assessment or re-entry information.

As parts of the high country continues to snow, space heaters were seen at a camp where crews are set up to battle the fire. It's not often people need a space heater for a wildfire, but the cooler temps can be tough, especially when people are in tents and sleeping bags at night.

"It does add a lot of stress and hardship to the firefighters, because of the low temperatures," said Turner.

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