June 6, 2011 in Nation/World

Arizona fire forces evacuations

Associated Press
 

GREER, Ariz. – Authorities ordered more eastern Arizona residents to evacuate their homes Sunday as a 225-square-mile blaze that has grown into the third-largest in state history crept toward more buildings.

The Apache County Sheriff’s Office told people east of the town of Alpine along U.S. Highway 180 to get out as the forest fire crept closer.

Alpine itself has been under mandatory evacuation orders since Thursday night, along with the community of Nutrioso and several lodges and camps in the scenic high country.

People packed up their belongings as smoke covered the mountain vacation towns in a smoky fog, and wind blew smoke from the burning pine forest well into nearby New Mexico and Colorado.

Crews have zero containment of the fire, which has been burning for a week.

In the vacation town of Greer, which has fewer than 200 year-round residents, many people voluntarily left Saturday. Those who remained dealt with haze heavily tinged with smoke. Greer is within miles of the fire, which officials expect will grow given a windy forecast and expected dry lightning Sunday and today.

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