Firefighters are making some progress battling the Tunnel wildfire burning northeast of Flagstaff. It's now 3% contained and has grown to more than 21,000 acres.
A little bit of wet weather may have helped. There was some rainfall and even some snow in the area, but firefighters are getting even more help from crews in other states.
Incident management teams from California are assisting. Arizona crews would have been there, but they are fighting fires in New Mexico. So now starts the juggling of what resources go where and it doesn't help that it's only April.
The Crooks and Tunnel fires are raging on and fire crews are rushing to get organized.
"To the best of my recollection, I can't imagine starting any time in April, let alone in the middle of April. It is unprecedented," said Scott Freitag, Fire Chief at Central Arizona Fire and Medical Authority.
Hot Shot crews and other incident management teams are only just beginning to arrive. Usually they would have more time to prepare because this kind of fire activity doesn't start until late May or June.
"It puts a lot of stress on our folks.. they wear a lot of hats."
The reason for this early start climatologists say is because of the heavy precipitation we got last year.
"It gives us fuel for our wildfires. We are happy with precipitation, but we need to balance that with understanding that provides fuel for wildfires," said Erin Saffell, a climatologist at Arizona State University.
There was some good news on April 22 as northern Arizona saw some snowfall, which was a welcome sight for crews.
"The fire had a little bit of moisture that may have slowed it down a bit, but as you can see the winds have picked up. It’s taken all the moisture and effectiveness out of the picture right now," said Dick Fleishman, public information officer for the Tunnel Fire.
Even though the fire is still burning through acres, a new program in place is helping the fire fight. The Arizona Fire Chiefs Association is starting a new statewide mutual aid plan, which allows local firefighters to assist assigned fire resources when they are overwhelmed.
"We have a plan in place to gather those local resources, dump them on the fire.. we're coordinating with the incident management team and then activate statewide mutual aid, which would bring other engines from around the state to backfill our stations to ensure that we're still responding to 911 calls," said Scott Freitag, Fire Chief at Central Arizona Fire and Medical Authority.
Even though there was precipitation and snow on April 22, unfortunately, fire crews say the winds were still strong, pushing the fire.
2,000 residents remain evacuated from the area.