MORONGO VALLEY, Calif. (AP) – The first major wildfire of the summer raced across more than 5,500 acres of desert brush, destroying at least six homes, threatening hundreds of others and forcing residents of this sparsely populated Mojave Desert community to flee.
A wildfire in Arizona swept across 30,000 acres of brush and grass by early Thursday and prompted the evacuation of about 250 homes. At least 10 structures had been lost, but a firefighters’ spokesman said it wasn’t clear how many of those were homes.
The California fire started when a single home burned and the flames spread to brush and tall grass. Another fire about 35 miles away had burned more than 2,000 acres but did not threaten any structures, authorities said.
The wildfires hopscotched up and down hillsides and canyons about 100 miles east of downtown Los Angeles. They threatened as many as 700 homes for a time, and hundreds of people fled, some with just a handful of possessions.
A helicopter makes a water drop while fighting the Cave Creek Complex Fire, in the Tonto Hills area…
As her husband, Tom, hosed down their house, Ann Lee grabbed their birthcertificates and medicines and rounded up their six cats. She then turned to himand said, “Let’s get out of here, because even if the fire takes everythingwe own, I don’t plan on dying here.”
The couple, who headed to an evacuation center in Yucca Valley, had no ideaif their home had been spared. “I’m worried, but it’s not going to do meany good throwing a fit or crying,” said Lee, 46. “It’s in God’s hands.”
By midnight only a few dozen homes remained under threat, with much of thefire having moved into wilderness.
In Arizona, about 250 homes had been evacuated in the area about 20 milesnortheast of Phoenix. About 300 firefighters fought the blaze Thursday.
“It was just blowing and going even last night,” said Vinnie Picard, a spokesman for the fire crews.
“We continue to make progress but right now we continue to focus on keeping the fire out of the communities and protect the homes,” Picard said.
Bill Victor, one of the evacuees, watched from a road Wednesday evening as aircraft dropped flame-retardant slurry on the ridge behind his home in the Tonto Hills subdivision.
“It’s a helpless feeling,” said Victor. “It’s something to see the flames come over and shocking to realize that you could lose everything. It’s a feeling everyone should have in their lives once to get their priorities straight.”
A home destroyed by a wildfire that moved through the Mojave Desert community of Morongo Valley,…