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Rafael Fire in Arizona chars more than 77,000 acres as burnouts continue

by Adrian Skabelund, Arizona Daily Star (Flagstaff, Ariz.) |

The Rafael Fire near Flagstaff, Ariz., had increased to 77,102 acres by Monday morning as crews continued burnout operations to corral the blaze.

Firefighters were working to bring the fire south from the Sycamore Falls Climbing Area to White Horse Lake, with the help of an unmanned aerial vechicle, according to a press release. Meanwhile, crews were mopping up Friday's firing operation on the Coconino National Forest and preparing to push the fire back into Sycamore Canyon.

Crews have been fighting the Rafael Fire from the ground and air, using helicopters and drones to keep it from advancing toward Interstate 40 between Flagstaff and Williams.

Officials gave a media tour Saturday to allow an up-close look at the burnout operations as firefighters continue their work.

The Coconino County Sheriff's Office announced that it was lifting the evacuation order for the South Garland Prairie neighborhood early Saturday evening, putting the area back to "set" status. The Sheriff's Office was sending deputies to check in residents as they returned and continuing to patrol the area to monitor the situation.

Dozens of rural ranches and other homes have been evacuated over the course of the week, and others are in various stages of preparedness.

Meanwhile, residents of Pine were allowed to return home Saturday after being evacuated because of a wildfire, authorities said.