Officials reveal what sparked Arizona blaze that has burned 30 buildings

The Tinder Fire in Arizona has burned more than 11,400 acres. 

CBS affiliate KPHO

HAPPY JACK, Ariz. –– An illegal campfire sparked a wildfire in north-central Arizona that has burned thousands of acres, prompted evacuations and threatened about 1,000 homes, officials said Tuesday. The campfire was abandoned but never should have been set in the first place due to fire restrictions, Coconino National Forest officials said, CBS Phoenix affiliate KPHO reports.

“This shows extreme lack of care for public safety and our natural resources when people would have an illegal campfire, much less abandon an illegal campfire,” said Andy Pederson, a captain with the Forest Service patrol for northern Arizona.

An investigation is ongoing, although authorities said finding the person — or people — responsible will be difficult since witnesses are hard to come by.

The blaze, known as the Tinder Fire, has scorched 11,423 acres with zero containment. Officials estimate it has burned 30 buildings, and about 600 people remained evacuated as of Wednesday morning.  

The blaze was supposed to be named the Kinder Fire but became the Tinder Fire when a dispatcher wrote it down incorrectly.

According to officials, the Moqui Tower lookout reported the fire on Friday. It spread to the bottom of East Clear Creek Canyon and robust winds fueled it northeast up the canyon and toward homes about three miles away. Crews have said the weather should help as they seek to get a better handle on the blaze.

Firefighters are trying to keep the fire from burning toward housing tracts, and are also trying to prevent it from heading in another direction — toward a valley, said fire management team spokesman Brian Scott, KPHO reported. It could burn for a long time if its enters the valley.  

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