No injuries reported from fire that started Sunday

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SHIPROCK — Fire crews remained on the scene today after a fire burned 100 acres a day earlier in the Mesa Farm area here.

Firefighters from the Bureau of Indian Affairs Navajo Region Wildland Fire Management and the McKinley County Fire Department were extinguishing and removing burning material in an area near Navajo Route 364 and Fifth Lane.

McKinley County Fire Department Deputy Chief Rich Austin said seven personnel, one brush truck and a water tender responded to the fire Sunday evening.

Four firefighters and the brush truck remained on scene Monday to help with mop-up work.

"We're watching for hot spots. Right now, we've got these burns that are burning kind of hot, so we're rotating all the dirt and wetting it down," Austin said.

Johnson Benallie, regional assistance fire management officer for BIA Wildland Fire and Aviation Management, said the cause of the fire remains under investigation. He declined to comment further but confirmed the size of the fire and that there were no injuries to people or livestock.

Shiprock Chapter President Duane "Chili" Yazzie said the fire started Sunday afternoon and that an airtanker was among the resources used to combat it.

"They flew over the area and made several passes and dropped fire retardant," Yazzie said.

He added some residents were evacuated from the area and said there were reports of damage to some structures.

Personnel from the Navajo Nation Department of Emergency Management were investigating reports of structural damage on Monday.

Yazzie said the chapter house was used as a command post, and chapter officials declared a state of an emergency.

Five members of the San Juan County Fire Department were dispatched to the fire, along with a brush truck and a water tender, according to county Deputy Fire Chief Tom Fields.

They were dispatched around 1 p.m. Sunday and left the scene around 8 p.m. County firefighters were on the scene providing structure prevention.

Also responding to the fire were firefighters from the Navajo Nation Fire Department and BIA Ute Mountain Ute Agency.

The Navajo Nation and BIA Navajo Region issued fire restrictions on June 21, 2017, due to high fire danger.

The restrictions prohibit the possession and use of fireworks, using campfires and charcoal without fire rings or grills, and using firearms or incendiary devices without valid permits.

A portion of the fire restrictions were lifted on March 7 to allow individuals to burn areas for agricultural purposes.

Under those stipulations, individuals are required to obtain permits to open burn for agricultural purposes from the Air Quality Control Program under the Navajo Nation Environmental Protection Agency.

Anyone wishing to report open burn activity is asked to call the Air Quality Control Program in Fort Defiance, Arizona, at 928-729-4246 or 928-729-4096.

Forms to register an open burn are available at chapter houses or from the Navajo Nation EPA office in Shiprock, or online under the "online form" tab at navajonationepa.org.

Reporter Joshua Kellogg contributed to this story.

Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4636 or by email at nsmith@daily-times.com.

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