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Some Yarnell residents evacuated by fire can return home

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS

    A brush fire that began Wednesday pushed evacuations to several hundred as more people fled homes Thursday near Yarnell, an Arizona community. Authorities ordered additional evacuations Thursday, including homes in the Peeples Valley Area, as they feared the fire might make its way down to Highway 89.

YARNELL, Ariz. >> Some residents of a north-central Arizona town who were evacuated by a brush fire were allowed to return home Friday night, authorities said.

Yavapai County Sheriff’s officials said a 7-mile stretch of Highway 89 that had been shut down since Wednesday was reopened in both directions at 4 p.m. Friday.

About 250 Yarnell residents evacuated by Wednesday night and 30 residents of nearby Peeples Valley evacuated Thursday afternoon when winds fanned the flames.

Incident Commander Alan Sinclair said Peeples Valley residents and Yarnell residents on the west side of town were being allowed to return home, but homes on the east side of town closest to the fire remained under mandatory evacuation although that order could be lifted sometime Saturday.

The human-caused fire, which started Wednesday, remained at 10 percent containment with full containment expected by early next week. It has charred more than 5 square miles, but officials said the flames continue to move northeast and away from populated areas.

Humidity increased into the mid-teens Friday and overcast clouds brought slightly cooler temperatures that fire spokesman Gerry Perry said helped suppression efforts.

No homes have been destroyed, but the fire has burned three structures such as sheds.

Arizona Public Service is working to fix power outages caused by the fire.

A June 2013 fire in Yarnell destroyed nearly 130 homes and killed 19 members of an elite firefighting crew who got caught in the flames.

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