USA — Weary residents evacuated from a raging wildfire in Arizona may be able to return to their homes Wednesday as improving weather conditions helped firefighters battle the blaze.
The three-day old wildfire has torched 14,000 acres in the Flagstaff area and caused the evacuation of hundreds, fire officials said.
One of those evacuated was Christine Mayer, who said she spent her third night in a hotel Tuesday.
“I want to go home,” Mayer told CNN as she looked at the smoke hanging above her Timberline neighborhood outside of Flagstaff. “I am waiting and waiting to hear when we can go home.”
Calmer winds and cooler temperatures Tuesday may have helped the 800 firefighters battling the blaze. But still the wildfire, that was caused by an abandoned campfire, was only 20 percent contained fire officials said late Tuesday.
Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer said some residents may be able to return to their homes Wednesday. Brewer called the fire a “terrible situation,” but she said she was “comforted by the competency of those fighting the fire and the heroes that are on the front lines.”
The governor said she’ll be seeking grants through the Federal Emergency Management Agency to help pay for firefighting efforts, which have involved firefighters from Washington, California, Montana, Colorado, Idaho and other western states.
Residents were evacuated from at least 756 properties, including two residential neighborhoods, an animal shelter and the grounds of the Sunset Crater and Wupatki national monuments. Many people have been staying at a middle school in Flagstaff.
Despite the progress, it may take some two weeks to contain the blaze, fire officials said. So far, no buildings have burned.
Fighting the fire is a challenge because it has burned over steep, rugged terrain at elevations between about 7,000 to 10,500 feet. Six air tankers have been fighting the flames, with helicopters providing support to ground crews, according to the Coconino County website.