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article imageWildfires in Arizona burn out of control

By Alexa Tomaszewski     Jun 9, 2011 in Environment
Causing evacuation and threatening transmission lines, wildfires in Arizona continue to burn out of control almost two weeks after igniting. As of Wednesday more than 600 square miles have been consumed, according to reports from the area.
The Wallow Fire, which ignited May 29, has burned 389,000 acres, making it the second largest fire in state history, reports the Los Angeles Times. Sweeping 35-mph winds are picking up embers and bringing them up to three miles past the main blaze, creating spot fires. The Los Angeles Times reports smoke could be seen in Wyoming and is spreading towards New Mexico.
Firefighters from across the states, as far as New York have been called in to fight the fire but have yet to contain it. The Los Angeles Times reports about 2,000 people are fighting the fires.
The flames are currently racing towards power lines and could cause blackouts across Texas and in parts of New Mexico, according to ABC News. El Paso Electric's high voltage transmission lines supply electricity to hundreds of thousands of people, ABC reports. Currently aircraft are fighting the flames with fire retardant to prevent further flare ups.
According to Channel 6 News the towns of Springerville, Arizona and Eager, Arizona were ordered by the Apache County Sheriff's office to evacuate, each town has between 2,000 and 4,000 residents.
Channel 6 News also reports the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) closed state route 260 near Springerville, Arizona and Eager, Arizona. Drivers in the area are also being discouraged from taking US 60 by the ADOT because the route may close down at anytime depending on conditions.
At the New Mexico border, Catron County officials are preparing residents of Luna in case the fire spreads that way, reports the Los Angeles Times.
"In response to the large fires burning in Arizona, the U.S. Forest Service has deployed more than 2,500 inter-agency firefighters to protect lives and property through a joint incident command system, and we are coordinating the resources available at local, state and federal levels," said U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell in a statement Tuesday. "While damage to homes, communities and people has been limited so far, we anticipate that the current dry and windy conditions will lead to several difficult days of firefighting ahead of us to prevent additional acreage within the state from being impacted."
These wildfires have been attributed to human activity, reports the Los Angeles Times. Authorities say they believe one cause to be an unattended campfire.
More about Arizona, Wildfires, embers, Evacuation, EL Paso Electric
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