SEDONA, Az. – Fire officials on Friday were trying to keep a 2,000-acre wildfire that burned at least four buildings and forced the evacuation of about 30 homes from reaching pine trees in this scenic northern Arizona town.
A blaze that appeared to be caused by humans burned two homes, a small shed and an outbuilding before moving off into the wilderness Thursday night, Sedona Fire District Chief Matt Shobert said.
Investigators said early Friday it appeared the fire was started by sparks from the grinder of a fencing company that was working on a fence post Thursday afternoon.
U.S. Forest Service officials said citations could be forthcoming and the fencing company may have to pay for some of the cost of fighting the fire.
Thirty homes out of about 200 in the Pine Valley subdivision near the Village of Oak Creek were evacuated by the fire, which quickly grew from 40 acres.
"We did lose the (two) homes. That's a tragic event. But it could have been much worse," Shobert said. "Once it hit the forest, it took off."
Some evacuees could return to their homes by midmorning Friday, he said.
"I believe things are not as serious as they were earlier," said Connie Birkland, a spokeswoman for the firefighters. "The water drops (by aircraft) are being fairly successful in keeping the homes protected."
A hundred firefighters were battling the blaze Thursday night and more were being deployed, officials said.
There were no structures in the direction the fire was headed, but the blaze had the potential to pick up Friday morning, Birkland said.
The American Red Cross set up a reception and care center for evacuees in Sedona, about 90 miles north of Phoenix.
"Honestly, I don't care about material possessions," said 26-year-old Cassie Stocker, an evacuee. "It's not knowing what's going on, if your house has burned down. It's worry, fear and anticipation."