The Rafael fire has burned over 36,000 acres, and is now sixteen miles southwest of Flagstaff. Two highways that cross each other serve as fire buffer zones for the city; areas southwest of these highways are on pre-evacuation notice. To put this into perspective, there are over a thousand residents in the pre-evacuation area. Update: While one community in this area has been given evacuation orders, most communities in this area have now been downgraded to ready status; so, these communities are no longer on pre-evacuation notice.
Additionally, the Red Cross set up a shelter at one of the local high schools; now, that an evacuation notice has been given to at least one community, the shelter will be open to absorb anyone who has been evacuated . A Type 1 Incident management team arrived early Thursday morning, in order to take over operations. This is a national team, trained to coordinate complex fires, and other natural disasters. After the Type 1 team further assessed the situation, those communities mentioned above were downgraded to ready status.
The Rafael Fire is only ten miles from Sedona; flames from the fire are visible behind the Red Rocks, in particular, behind the red rock structure called Thunder Mountain. Areas in both West Sedona and Uptown Sedona, north of HWY 89-A were put on ready status Thursday afternoon. The Rafael fire is currently the number one fire priority in the nation, in all likelihood, because of its proximity to both Sedona and Flagstaff, AZ.
“And Elijah went up to the top of Carmel; and he bowed himself down upon the earth, and put his face between his knees. “And he said to his servant: ‘Go up now, look toward the sea.’ And he went up, and looked, and said: ‘There is nothing.’ And he said: ‘Go again seven times.’ And it came to pass at the seventh time, that he said: ‘Behold, there ariseth a cloud out of the sea, as small as a man’s hand.'” “And it came to pass in a little while, that the heaven grew black with clouds and wind, and there was a great rain” (1 Kings 18:42-45, JPS 1917 Tanach).
May the L-RD send rain, and grant shelter to all who might be compelled to seek safety and refuge from the Rafael fire, as well as the other fires in Arizona. Amein.