Arizonan Wildfire Rages For Eleventh Day
A wildfire believed to have been started by careless campers in Arizona has continued to rage for an eleventh day.
Around 8,000 residents in the towns of Springerville and Eager have been forced to evacuate the White Mountains region because of the blaze, now ranked as the second largest in the state’s history.
So far the so-called Wallow Fire has destroyed around 389,000 acres.
As many as 2,000 people, most of them in Eager, had been told to leave the area over the past two days, but officials had allowed most residents to stay put while keeping them on standby for possible further evacuations.
The order to clear out was accompanied by a message on Twitter: “(The) Apache County Sheriff’s Office has ordered a full evacuation of Springerville and Eager, effective now,” it read.
The small New Mexican town of Luna, just over the eastern Arizona border, remains on alert. The fire is said to be around a mile from the border.
“I’m trying to protect my belongings as best I can,” said Wayne Lutz, 68, an Eager resident who spent the day clearing brush and dampening his property with sprinklers before the final evacuation order.
“If push comes to shove, I can be out of here in 10 minutes,” he said. “The house is insured. My life is not.”
Fire crews in the region have been setting off backfires in an attempt to draw the flames away from threatened homes, and bulldozers have cut a 10-mile-long buffer zone south of Eager between the leading edge of the blaze.
Smoke from the fire, which fire officials suspect may have started from an unattended campfire, has drifted across several states as far east as Iowa.
The state’s largest wildfire on record, the Rodeo-Chediski fire in eastern Arizona, destroyed 469,000 acres in 2002 before it was extinguished.