Seven communities were ordered to evacuate Sunday in northern Arizona after a wildfire continued to grow after breaking out at the Coconino National Forest near Payson. In this photo, the Rhea fire burns in the distance behind a wind farm near Seiling, Oklahoma, April 17, 2018. REUTERS/Nick Oxford

UPDATE: 2:10 a.m. EDT - The Coconino County Board of Supervisors declared a state of emergency as the previously 500-acre fire spread to 8,000 acres in northeastern Arizona.

The fire, which threatened several homes and properties in the area had zero containment till Sunday. Firefighters said many structures were destroyed but did not provide any more details regarding the situation. The Coconino County said it needs to assess damages before providing updates, Arizona Family reported.

The Department of Transportation said that Highway 87, about 30 miles south of Winslow, was closed on both sides following a brush fire. No estimated time was provided as to when the state route will be open again. Strong winds from the southwest, which were fanning the fire, were expected to continue through Tuesday.

The Southwest Area Management Team released the following statement regarding the tinder fire in Arizona:

Original story:

Seven communities were ordered to evacuate Sunday in northern Arizona after a tinder fire continued to grow after breaking out at the Coconino National Forest near Payson.

The fire started out Friday 11:45 a.m. local time (2:45 p.m. EDT) and quickly spread to 500 acres of land. The immediate evacuation of Moquis Ranchettes, Starlight Pines, Clear Creek, Timber Ranch, Tamarron, Pine Canyon, Blue Ridge Estates, Ponderossa Pines and Mogollon Ranches communities was ordered by the Coconino County Sheriff’s Office at around 7 p.m. local time (10 p.m. EDT) on Sunday, ABC 15 reported.

The sheriff’s office further added that the evacuations would stay in place until further orders.

Seven fire crews, including 500 firemen, were struggling to bring the fire under control, which was burning about nine miles east of Clints Well and near C.C. Cragin Reservoir on the Mogollon Rim. The Superstition Fire and Medical District tweeted Sunday it was sending a fire engine and a four-person crew to the scene for assistance.

Photos of the fire, posted on social media, showed the area covered in clouds of smoke.

Aided by strong winds coming in from the southwest, the fire is expected to spread to the northeast toward the communities which were told to evacuate. The sheriff’s office warned residents that smoke from the fire could increase as winds picked up.

Local news channel ABC13 reporter John Genovese said there were other factors too that were helping the fire gain momentum.

“Officials tell me Tinder Fire had ‘rapid, significant’ growth today. Well past 500 acres. Won't know exact number until survey flight tomorrow. High winds, dry fuel and topography are the biggest challenges for fire crews,” he said.

The cause of the fire was believed to be human activity. Firefighters refrained from providing any more details till the investigation into the cause was completed, local radio station KTAR reported.

The Arizona Public Service Electric Company announced via Twitter on Sunday: “Due to the current conditions of the #TinderFire, we are de-energizing about 1,500 customers in the Blue Ridge community. This is being done as part of fire mitigation efforts.”

It also said in reply to one Twitter user it could not provide an estimated time for the restoration of power.

The southbound roads on Highway 87 were closed due to the wildfire, so residents trying to evacuate were encouraged to take the northbound roads to Winslow.

An evacuation center was initially set up in the reception area of Winslow Junior High, but was later relocated to Twin Arrows Navajo Casino Resort, 22181 Resort Boulevard, Flagstaff, due to smoke in the area. Small animals were also being accepted at this site, and animals were being accepted at the shelter set up at Holbrook Navajo County Fairgrounds.

District ranger for the Mogollon Rim Ranger District, Brad Cooper said it was always difficult to decide exactly how much restriction to impose during such emergency situations.

"Our mission is to provide recreation and everything else, but we also want to be cognizant of the fire danger. We just don't make those decisions lightly until we need to."

People with queries regarding the evacuations can call 928-679-8393.