Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Massive Arizona wildfire continues to grow

Disaster News Network: Wind-whipped flames from a massive 365-square-mile Arizona wildfire pushed toward New Mexico early Tuesday as more people evacuated their homes, officials said. The Wallow Fire, burning more than 233,000 acres of eastern Arizona wilderness and the 1.8 million-acre Apache National Forest, has forced more than 3,000 people to flee their homes, officials said. More than 2,300 firefighters from coast to coast battled the fire about 250 miles northeast of Phoenix -- the third-largest in state history.

Only two other Arizona fires have reached more than 200,000 acres -- the Cave Creek Complex Fire of 2005, which burned nearly 250,000 acres, and the 2002 Rodeo-Chediski Fire, which burned almost 470,000 acres, officials said. It is believed the Wallow Fire -- whose smoky haze traveled more than 1,300 miles over six states into Iowa -- was sparked May 29 by an abandoned campfire, state fire authorities said.

Heavy smoke from the blaze blanketed Gallup, N.M., and filled the valley surrounding Albuquerque. Gallup, with more than 20,000 people, is the most populous city between Albuquerque and Flagstaff, Ariz.

Fire crews sought to protect the town of Luna, N.M., after evacuating the Arizona mountain communities of Alpine and Nutrioso, as well as the vacation town of Greer, amid the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest.

The Round Valley communities of Eagar, population 4,000, and Springerville, population 2,000, were told to be ready to evacuate, The Arizona Republic reported Tuesday…

Lockheed P2V dropping retardant on the Alambre Fire, Arizona, in 2007. U.S. Forest Service photo by Dyan Bone, from

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