WILLIAMS - As fire crews continue to battle the Twin Fire, located roughly a mile from the city of Williams, evacuations have already been suggested for a number of areas within the small northern Arizona community. As of the morning of Oct. 3, residents in the southwest portion of the city were told to leave their homes due to the threat of fire and smoke, including the roughly 25 elderly residents of St. Agnes Apartments. Those who live west of Ninth Street and south of Sheridan Avenue were asked to leave their homes immediately, with a 4 a.m. Oct. 3 deadline suggested, according to a Williams Police Department press release.
Residents of St. Agnes began to evacuate at about 10 a.m. Oct. 3, as slurry planes flew overhead and fire fighters congregated in the parking lot near the apartments.
"We are asking all of our residents to have their families come and pick up (elderly residents) at least for the next night or two," said Angie Mikkelsen, wo operates the apartments with her husband, Guy Mikkelsen. "The Fire Department has told us that the winds are supposed to pick up to 50 miles an hour today and that they're supposed to be even worse tomorrow. If it starts moving faster they're not going to be able to move everyone out of here fast enough. They're doing it as a precaution right now. Right now it is not mandatory, but we are moving everybody out of here as a precaution, especially here at St. Agnes because they're all seniors. A lot of people are worried about their pets and whether they will be able to take their pets to where they are going to evacuate, but I think most of them have families that are coming to pick them up."
Nancy Watson, who lives at the corner of 11th Street and McPherson, got a call during the early morning hours of Oct. 3.
"We got called at one o'clock this morning and we had to be out by four," Watson said, adding that they have been staying with friends north of Williams since the evacuation call.
"I just came back into town to check in," she said.
Red Cross Emergency Supervisor Taura Livingston said crews with Red Cross have set up the Williams Elementary-Middle School (WEMS) to serve as a temporary shelter for those who have had to evacuate their homes.
"In the middle of the night last night we were asked to set up the shelter for the evacuees at Escalante," Livingston said. "We had about nine people overnight. They left about 6:30 a.m. this morning. McDonalds was nice enough to donate meals for breakfast."
If the evacuation order remains in effect, she said the shelter is anticipating more evacuees toward the evening hours Oct. 3.
"We are anticipating a larger population," Livingston said, adding that pet owners have been sleeping in their cars outside the shelter to be with their animals.
Should the WEMS location become unsafe due to the Twin Fire, Livingston said the Red Cross is already looking at additional resources outside of Williams.
"We're waiting on regular updates and we're always ready in any disaster to relocate if any location becomes unsafe for any reason. So far we don't have any indication that that would happen," Livingston said. "People should know if they need more information they can contact Coconino County Emergency Management, as well as the Red Cross, at 1-800-842-7349."
For more information on the Twin Fire visit the Inciweb Web site at http://www.inciweb.org/incident/1909/ or call (928) 635-5653 or (928) 635-5635.