Arizona Wildfire Now Threatens New Mexico

Fire has burned through 603 square miles of timber
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 10, 2011 8:35 AM CDT
Arizona's Wallow Wildfire Now Threatens New Mexico
Horses graze in a field as smoke from the Wallow wildfire fills the air in Eagar, Ariz., Monday, June 6, 2011.   (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

Arizona’s Wallow wildfire continues to rage, and it’s approaching New Mexico, where workers are setting up fire lines and one town is readying for an evacuation. Now the second-largest Arizona wildfire ever recorded, the flames have charred some 603 square miles of timber, destroyed 22 homes in a resort town, and forced thousands to evacuate. Yesterday, crews burnt fuel in the fire’s path, hoping to bar its progress north, while an air tanker applied flame retardant at its northwest edge. But the fire is only 5% contained, the AP reports.

“If you've been with those folks when they go back in, it doesn't matter if they're rich or poor, if they live in a mansion or if they live in a very small house, the pain on people's faces is exactly the same,” says a fire official. Meanwhile, fingers are being pointed all around: While the disaster was reportedly started by a campfire, some are slamming environmentalists for thick tree growth in the area, while others are hitting out at firefighters who they say have shaken up the forest’s natural cycle of fires prompted by lightning. Click here, here, and here for more pictures. (More Arizona stories.)

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