Assayaii Lake fire contained 5 percent as of Thursday morning

By Terry Bowman
Navajo Times

FORT DEFIANCE, June 19, 2014

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After six days of battling intense fire conditions, the Southwest Area Incident Team 3 finally has some good news.

The Assayii Lake fire, which has burned an estimated 13,448 acres as of Thursday morning in the Chuska Mountains, is now contained 5 percent.

“Yesterday was a really good day,” said Todd Abel, operations section chief, (of the SWA Incident Management Team) at Thursday morning’s meeting at the Tse Ho Tso Middle School gymnasium.

Donation sites as of Thursday, June 19

Navajo Times

WINDOW ROCK – The follow places will be accepting donations for the Assayii Lake Fire victims and firefighters.

Phoenix area

The Phoenix Indian Center is accepting donations during regular business hours from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays, and on June 21 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Staff at the Phoenix Indian Center can be reached at 602-264-6768. The staff will coordinate with the Navajo Nation on transporting the donated items to Navajo.

Tse Bonito, N.M. area

The Navajo Nation Fire Lake Command Center is working directly with the Incident Command Operations at the Emergency Operating Center in Tse Bonito, N.M. The original location for the command center was at the “Tin Gym” facility in Fort Defiance but is now relocated to the NNEOC (Emergency Operations Center) on the 2nd floor of the Navajo Division of Transportation building.

Donations for evacuees are accepted at the following official shelters that we are supporting:

  • Sheepsprings Chapter
  • Crystal Chapter
  • Newcomb High School
  • Tohatchi High School
  • Shiprock Chapter
  • Fort Defiance Chapter

The Wildland firefighters are taken care of by their federal and state agencies. They are not allowed to accept donations. The following items will be accepted:

  • Hand Sanitizer
  • Baby Wipes
  • Vinyl Gloves
  • Hand Soap
  • Shampoo
  • Toothpaste/Toothbrush
  • Baby food
  • Feminine products

People wanting to donate for the affected communities are encouraged to contact Colleen Bitsie or Victoria Lee at 505-263-1061. They are both coordinating the Donations Management team regarding actual needs for evacuees of the affected communities.

Navajo United Way

The Navajo Nation, through a partnership with the Navajo United Way, have set up monetary donation account.

Donors can contact Vanessa Thompson at, or call 928-871-6661/6669 and 928-206-6318 for information.

For livestock assistance, the contact persons for the Navajo Department of Agriculture are Judy Willeto at 505-712-0703 or Ferdinand Notah at 928-797-0943. For pets, people can contact the Fort Defiance Animal Shelter at 928-729-4023.

According to Abel, because the winds calmed down to around 10 miles per hour, firefighters were able to move in and set up dozer lines around the southern and eastern parts of the fire, stopping the spread of the fire to the areas of Naschitti and Mexican Springs, N.M.

With winds expected to say at 10 miles per hour today, firefighters hope to move back in and set up more dozer lines in the northeast.

Dozer lines will also be set up around the southern flank of the fire to keep it from spreading back south towards Assayii Lake where the fire initially started.

Fire officials are estimating five structures having been destroyed by the fire, but that number has yet to be confirmed.

Travelers are not permitted to travel on access roads leading to the Bowl Canyon Recreation Area. Roads closed in the area are Navajo Route 134, also knows as Narbona Pass road, at Sheep Springs to Crystal Boarding School, Navajo Route 31, and Navajo Route 30 at Mexican Springs.

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