Tinder Fire latest: 'Zero percent containment does not equal zero percent progress'

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However, county officials say they can't begin the staged re-entry process until it ensures the entire area is "completely safe for residents, even though some developed areas have not been directly impacted by the fire".

The blaze now is 0 percent contained. "We will continue to coordinate with state and local emergency response officials", Ducey said.

Officials were not sure when residents will be allowed to return home.

The "coldest" part of the fire is near the homes and cabins, though they are still considered threatened, Scott said Wednesday afternoon. "They're going to be cautious before they let them back in".

The Coconino County Board of Supervisors declared a state of emergency because the fire was edging close to homes and buildings.

ADOT recommended using Interstate 17 and I-40 as alternate routes.

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On Tuesday, forest officials say the fire was started by an illegal campfire. The wildfire is burning about 50 miles south of Flagstaff on the Coconino National Forest near Clint's Well.

Authorities announced Tuesday that an illegal campfire that was abandoned started the fire Friday.

Officials were still searching for the person or persons responsible for the fire. The evacuation will remain in effect until firefighters are able to contain the west and north flanks of the fire and are confident there is no longer a threat to communities.

About half of Arizona was in the worst two categories of drought, a stark change from a year ago when only some areas were characterized as abnormally or moderately dry.

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. Weather forecasters have warned the fire season will be risky and life-threatening.