A member of the Navajo Scouts works on taking down an aspen tree on Friday while crews battle the Assayii Lake Fire in the Sand Spring area of the
A member of the Navajo Scouts works on taking down an aspen tree on Friday while crews battle the Assayii Lake Fire in the Sand Spring area of the Ch'ooshgai Mountains. (Jon Austria — The Daily Times)

FARMINGTON — The Assayii Lake Fire is still only 60 percent contained, but the fire could be downgraded towards the end of the week and turned over to the control of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, said Patricia Bean, public information officer for the Southwest Area Incident Management Team.

The fire could be downgraded from a Type 2 fire to Type 3 fire, she said.

The federal Incident Command System categorizes fires from Type 1, a major natural disaster or fire, to Type 5, a small non-complex wildfire.

She cautions though the fire won't be turned over unless the team is certain the fire is under control.

"We're not going to turn over the fire until we're quite sure we are ready," she said.

As of Sunday morning, the fire has consumed about 14,712 acres, the same amount of acreage from a Saturday evening press release.

Bean said the fire is still burning new areas within the perimeter of the fire, about 10 miles northeast of Navajo.

"It's pretty stable right now. The firefighters are firming up (fire) lines and mopping up," she said.

At the height of the fire, nearly 800 personnel were assigned to battle the blaze, with conditions improving, nearly 600 personnel are fighting the fire that started on June 13.

Bean said she expects the trend of needing less personnel to continue in the coming days.

In addition, local roads north of Hwy. 134, Narbona Pass, have been reopened, but local access roads south of Narbona Pass are still closed due safety precautions and firefighting efforts.


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In addition, the Navajo Nation Department of Emergency Management Director Rose Whitehair, said some temporary shelters are now empty.

"There's three shelters with no people in them," she stated in a text message. A total of seven shelters were opened to accommodate fire evacuees and only four remained opened and one more is expected to close on Monday.

"People are beginning to go back into their homes," she said.