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Summary
 

The Yarnell Fire burned in hilly terrain adjacent to the town of Yarnell, AZ (located south of Prescott, AZ). This event, caused by an lightning strike, lasted from June 28 - July 10, 2013 and burned over eight thousand acres of mountaineous terrain. Due to the high impacts caused by the fire, the event eventually gained a lot of attention by the local and national media and governments.

 
Timeline
Lightning strikes within the vicinity of the Yarnell Fire on the day of ignition

42 lightning strikes were recorded on June 28th, 2013 in the vicinity of the Yarnell Wildland Fire region. These were due to what are called dry lightning associated with weak thunderstorms that moved off the high terrain in northern Arizona and towards the southwest.

United States Drought Monitor as of June 25, 2013 for the state of Arizona

Yarnell Hill Fire Estimated Progression June 29, 2013 to July 1, 2013.

United States Drought Monitor as of June 25, 2013 for the state of Arizona

United State Drought Monitor as of June 25, 2013 for the state of Arizona

Dry water year for Yarnell, AZ region

Dry water year for Yarnell, AZ region

  • June 28: A lightning strike in the early part of the evening ignited the Yarnell Fire just outside of the town of Yarnell, AZ.

  • June 30: The fire grew quickly on Sunday afternoon, June 30th.

  • June 30: Yarnell and Peeples Valley were evacuated (approximately 600 people).

  • July 1: The fire had grown to nearly 8,500 acres and was 0% contained.

  • July 2: The fire was estimated at 8 percent containment and had not grown in the past 24 hours.

  • July 3: 45 percent containment was reported and the fire was not growing.

  • July 4: The evacuation order was lifted for the residents of Peeples Valley.

  • July 8: The evacuation order was lifted for the residents of Yarnell.

  • July 10: The fire was reported to be 100% contained.


Impacts
  • Nineteen firefighter fatalities. The Granite Mountain Hotshots Memorial State Park was created to honor the firefighters who lost their lives during this wildland fire.
  • 50 structures were destroyed.
  • Approximately 600 people were evacuated from the towns of Yarnell and Peeples Valley.
  • 250 residential and business structures were threatened.
  • Fifteen miles of SR 89 were closed.
Meteorology

The location of the Yarnell Fire experienced less than average total precipitation during the 2012-2013 water year. The lack of precipitation, along with seasonally dry conditions in June, led to extremely dry vegetation. As a result, combustion easily began after the lightning struck a patch of vegetation. The rapid growth conditions were likely aided by strong and erratic winds created by thunderstorm outflow.

Points of Contact

For more information on impacts and general inquiries about this event, please reference the contacts below:

  • National Weather Service: Brian Klimowski, Meteorologist-in-Charge at (928) 556-9161 ext. 222 or brian.klimowski@noaa.gov
    Tony Merriman, Warning Coordination Meteorologist at (928) 556-9161 ext. 223 or tony.merriman@noaa.gov

  • Yavapai County Emergency Manager at (928) 771-3183 or web.public.works@yavapai.us

  • Granite Mountain Hotshots Memorial State Park: Visitor Center at (877) 697-2757 from 8:00 AM to 6:00 PM