More than five days after lightning sparked the Yarnell Hill Fire, U.S. Forestry officials finally allowed a tour of some of the damage.
Members of the media were allowed to be escorted down Model Creek Road off of Highway 89 South. It is the area that first burned Friday through Sunday. Firefighters along the route said they are now more comfortable fighting the blaze head-on.
"Right now we are going direct, because the fire behavior is allowing us to get pretty close to it," said Ben Plumb, a firefighter division supervisor from Flagstaff.
The power of the blaze was evident. Acres of land were scorched, and a few of the untouched homes in the area almost seemed out of place. One home which was not damaged served as a base of sorts for first responders.
"It's got an open area down there that is free of fuel. A bit of a safer spot. If we need to use that if the fire blows up. So we tend to congregate in those places," said firefighter Todd Pederson, who is in Arizona from Idaho.
Down the road stood another home. It too was not damaged, but it was covered in red fire retardant.
"So we burnt this road off. That created an even wider buffer between the house and the fire," explained Plumb.
The home survived because of red slurry. It was slathered over the owner's truck, his yard equipment and his entire house.
A little further from the damage sat multiple helicopters in an open field. Forestry officials said they were used for emergency evacuations and also for water drops.
Perhaps the most devastating part of the tour was a single home burned to the ground. The only recognizable pieces were its chimney and foundation.
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