Arizona bushfire threatening New Mexico

Arizona bushfire threatening New Mexico

09 June 2011

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USA — A huge fire that has destroyed hundreds of miles of forest land in Arizona is now threatening to cross into neighbouring New Mexico, authorities said overnight.

Thousands of firefighters have been battling the blaze, dubbed the Wallow Fire, the second biggest in the history of Arizona.

The inferno, fuelled by high winds and low humidity, is raging out of control and has consumed nearly 157,000 hectares of land, prompting around 3,000 people to evacuate.

The US National Weather Service issued its most severe “red flag” warning for the area, while thousands of firefighters were hoping to slow the inferno’s advance by creating a protective “fire line” of already burned-out vegetation in its path.

Firefighters said the man-made blaze, which began on Saturday, is burning largely out of control and hundreds of dwellings remain at risk of being consumed in the fire.

Late Tuesday (local time), authorities also ordered the evacuations of the town of Eagar, with a population of around 4,500 people.

Another round of evacuations affected the mountain community of Wallow, Arizona, around 300 kilometres north-east of Phoenix near the New Mexico border.

Arizona governor Jan Brewer signed a declaration of emergency in response to the wildfires on Monday, releasing $200,000 from an emergency response fund.

A huge smoke cloud from the fire meanwhile was billowing over the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest about 300 kilometres north-east of Phoenix, near the Arizona-New Mexico border.

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