As Arizona’s Pipeline Fire has scorched nearly 23,000 acres, officials are discussing the possibility of closing the Coconino National Forest to the public, citing concerns over the fire threat, current weather patterns and prolonged drought conditions, an incident management spokesperson says.
Two smaller fires in the vicinity, the Haywire Fire and Double Fire, are now combined and called the Haywire Fire, and grew to 5,065 acres in size on Wednesday, according to InciWeb. The fire was first reported on Monday and was 11% contained as of Wednesday evening, InciWeb said.
Hot, windy and dry conditions have hampered firefighting efforts, but “lower wind speeds may allow for aerial operations throughout the day Tuesday and beyond,” a release from the national forest said Tuesday.
Officials are hoping for more containment by Thursday morning as more than 600 firefighters are now battling the fire, Pipeline Fire incident management spokesperson Michael Reichling tells CNN.
Officials have already closed access to nearly the entire northern portion of the Coconino National Forest, and the full forest remains in stage 2 fire and smoking restrictions, including prohibitions against building fires or using open torch flames, according to the US Forest Service website.
The smoke from the Pipeline and Haywire fires is traveling onto nearby tribal reservations and those on the tribal lands are being advised to remain indoors, Reichling said.
Flagstaff had also experienced smoke from the wildfire but it lifted earlier in the day, Reichling added.
Authorities in Coconino County evacuated hundreds of households on Sunday due to the Pipeline Fire – and thousands more were told to be prepared to evacuate. CNN has reached out to Coconino County officials for updated information on evacuations.
The county’s board of supervisors has declared a state of emergency because of the fires’ impact on the area.
Portions of State Hwy 89, which was closed Sunday north of Flagstaff, were able to reopen from mileposts 426 to 433 on Wednesday evening, according to an update from the Arizona Department of Transportation.
Less than two months ago, hundreds of households in Flagstaff were forced to evacuate due to the Tunnel Fire, which burned about 14 miles northeast of the city. The fire, which began April 17, ultimately burned about 19,000 acres, according to InciWeb.
Across the nation, there are 38 active, large wildfires Wednesday that have burned more than 1.2 million acres in four states, according to the National Interagency Fire Center.
“More than 6,700 wildland firefighters and support personnel are assigned to incidents across the country,” the NIFC said.
In New Mexico, firefighters are battling the two largest fires in the state’s history at once, the Hermits Peak/Calf Canyon Fire just northeast of Santa Fe and the Black Fire in the Gila National Forest. The two have burned more than 600,000 acres combined.
CNN’s Theresa Waldrop, Robert Shackelford, Elizabeth Wolfe and Travis Caldwell contributed to this report.