Fire risk soars in seven U.S. states
Dry conditions and wild winds threaten to have the fire spread farther and faster.
Sun, Jun 19, 2011 at 11:26 PM
SAFETY FIRST: Workers setup a roadblock on highway 260 leading in to Springerville, Arizona, preventing people from entering the town threatened by the Wallow fire. (Photo: ZUMA Press)
WASHINGTON — Seven states in the central and southwest U.S. are facing "extreme fire risk", officials said, as gusting winds sent massive blazes flaring up and jumping roadways, especially in Arizona.
Arizona and New Mexico had red flag warnings in effect, meaning that critical fire weather conditions are taking place or imminent, said the National Weather Service (NWS).
Other states facing high wildfire risks were Utah, Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas, CNN television said.
At least 6,000 people have been ordered to evacuate from two towns in the path of an historic blaze in Arizona, the largest in the state's history, and some homes have been destroyed, but so far no serious injuries have been reported, officials said.
In Arizona the so-called Monument Fire that started June 12 surged and authorities ordered evacuations along Highway 92, which the fire, fueled by 80 km/h (50 mph) winds, was able to jump, The Phoenix Sun reported late Sunday.
"The wildfire southeast of Sierra Vista has burned 8,481 ha (20,956 acres) about 34 square miles, and is 27 percent contained as of Sunday," the daily reported.
Copyright 2011 AFP American Edition