Mayer residents return home from Goodwin Fire evacuation

While some towns are still evacuated, the Mayer community was allowed home as the Goodwin Fire is 43 percent contained.

MAYER, Ariz. - Evacuation orders for the Goodwin Fire were lifted Thursday morning for people living in Mayer.

Dale and Bruce Bennett saw the flames come just steps from their home. They stayed behind putting out spot fires with a backhoe tractor and sprinklers. 

The father-son duo and their cousin lost power, but were prepared with a generator.

Those who did follow evacuation orders were allowed back in at 10:00 a.m. Thursday.

Linda Rodwald told us it felt like more than just a few days away from home.

“Three days, three long days, yeah […] I didn’t really worry about my belongings, you know, that can be replaced so […] just life in general," she said. "It was like, 'What are we going to do if we lose everything, you know, where do we start?”

MAP: The fire's path near Mayer

Thursday, State Route 69 North was still closed at milepost 272 and south of the intersection with State Route 169. Authorities expect that to change Friday.

Mandatory evacuations are still in place for Pine Flat, Breezy Pines, Poland Junction, Chauncey Ranch Road, Mountain Union, Walker, Upper Blue Hills, Potato Patch, Dewey west of Highway 69 and Mountain Pine Acres.

Thursday afternoon after the Mayer evacuation order was lifted, only a handful of people were back home, most likely because power was still out for nearly 600 people.

The Bennetts’ power was back up by Thursday afternoon, but Arizona Public Service (APS) said the rest of the town would probably have power restored by Sunday.

Robby Long, a troubleshooter with APS, was one of the employees working to bring back power to the community.

“Mayer dodged a bullet, you know, I’m an Arizona boy. I’ve been here my whole life and this was lucky," he said. "Yeah, there’s a massive amount of devastation here. Watching this fire yesterday take off was, I mean, almost alien. The way it just, just consumed that entire mountain. I was in awe."

GOODWIN FIRE: What we know

On the Bennett property, there were clear signs the flames had rolled through there, such as tractors, quads and compressors still smoking. 

The Bennetts were grateful for the fire break crews with the Arizona Department of Forestry and Fire Management made in the area a year and a half ago, but even so, the heat and wind drove the flames right over them.    

“That’s what saved the town because it goes from there. They did a swath a mile wide and it went from there over the hill and that’s exactly where that fire line stops,” Dale Bennett said.    

“It just came over that mountain and like wooh and just like a wave and it just got here so quick and it burnt the antenna off the house. The only reason we didn’t get it is ‘cause we were lower. It just flashed over the top,” Bruce Bennett said.

That antenna was a scary visual of the power of the flames.

Thursday evening, the Goodwin Fire was at 25,000 acres and 43 percent contained.

© 2017 KPNX-TV


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