A massive wildfire in eastern Arizona that has claimed more than 30 homes and forced nearly 10,000 people to evacuate is likely to spread, threaten other cities and potentially threaten two key power lines that carry electricity from Arizona to West Texas. A day ago, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer flew to the state's burning area and met with evacuated residents in Lakeside. U.S. 180 near the Arizona border, fire crews are felling trees and burning fuel, he said.
The advance came as the town of Springerville and Eager on the edge of the forest evacuated nearly 10,000 people from several mountain communities in and around its forest. The two largest were evacuated: the town of Lakeside, about 50 miles west of Lake Superior, and the towns of Silver City and Lake Oroville, both about 20 miles east of Tucson.
Luna, the county capital of the reserve, was powered by a large generator because power in the area had been cut off, Fletcher said. About 200 residents of Luna were prepared for evacuation, but some remained away, according to Fletcher.
Two high-voltage power lines in Arizona and Texas were in the path of the fire, said Whittington, who said he is in contact with the U.S. Forest Service and the Arizona Department of Public Safety. Lighters were burned Thursday, and fire crews planned to try to reinforce the line where they could build up forest areas before a major fire and continue burning while trying to stop its advance. Today, our line has made progress, but we remain in a critical fire condition, "said John Laughlin, a spokesman for the team fighting the fires.
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DC-10 tankers dropped three obstructive drops in the community on Thursday, and authorities hope the threat will be significantly reduced by Saturday. El Paso Electric warned that some of them could face power outages if the lines are cut, but authorities hope the threat will be significantly lower on Saturday, Saturday and Sunday.
The fire has reignited the blame game over the Ponderosa pine forest, which has grown dangerously overgrown after centuries of firefighting. Whittington said much of the growth in New Mexico actually stems from fires started by firefighters trying to burn fuel before they could stop the burn. Others have blamed overzealous firefighters for changing the lightning - setting off fires that once cleared the forest floor. Authorities said today that the fire had burned 639 square kilometres of forest in the past 24 hours, with more than 1,000 hectares still on fire.
The Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest fire destroyed 31 homes and cabins, including 22 in the picturesque mountain community of Greer, Whittington said.