Photo by Loretta Yerian.
Firefighters from Kaibab National Forest, Williams Fire Department and Arizona State Forestry have responded to a five to seven acre wildfire northeast of Williams. The fire was reported mid-afternoon and is still burning.
According to Williams Mayor John Moore, responding firefighters found a rapidly moving ground fire near the railroad tracks used by the Grand Canyon Railway Train.
Based on the wind gusts and potential spread of the fire, Kaibab Lake Campground and Day-Use area was quickly evacuated by Williams Police Department.
“Police came through and the forest guys came through and said there’s a fire over the hill and you need to get out,” said John Dietz, a Kaibab Lake camper who was evacuated to the Williams Rodeo Grounds.
Dietz and his wife were on the second day of a 14-day camping trip to Kaibab Lake. The couple resides in Sun City, Arizona.
“A lot of people had to leave their stuff – their RVs, tents, they just had to get out of there,” Dietz said.
Dietz said the officers did not give them a time frame to pack up, but just told them to immediately leave.
“We figured we would leave the trailer, but then we said ‘where are we going to go?’, so we took the trailer with us,” he said. “We put everything together real quick, I hooked up just enough to tow it and then I put the bars on here.”
Fire resources on scene include five engines, one bull dozer, two water tenders and several individual firefighting personnel, according to a Kaibab National Forest press release.
No structures are threatened at this time.
“Some of the campers may have gone to some other RV parks, but they are going to be full,” Dietz said. “Hopefully they will get the fire out and we’ll be back over there.”
Williams Police Chief Herman Nixon said the cause of the fire is unknown, but the extremely dry conditions allow a fire to start easily.
“This time of the year you get people pulling vehicles with chains that can start fires, trains start fires,” Nixon said. “It’s so dry, I mean I’m sure this won’t be the only one we’re on this week.”
Kaibab National Forest said the cause of the Prairie Dog Fire is under investigation, but it began on private property.
Due to the potential for the wildfire to grow, the Williams Police Department is asking visitors to stay clear of the area while fire suppression efforts continue.