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More forced to flee Southwest fires

Mon., June 20, 2011

PHOENIX – Authorities ordered more evacuations Sunday as crews battling a pair of wildfires in Arizona and on the New Mexico border faced extremely high winds that drove flames across containment lines and toward populated areas.

The new evacuations were near the southern Arizona city of Sierra Vista, where the Monument fire had already forced nearly 7,000 people to flee 2,600 homes. At least 44 homes have been lost.

Winds reaching 50 mph pushed flames down a mountain and into a heavily populated area Sunday. Fire crews were forced to abandon their lines and try to set up in new spots as the fire advanced, fire spokesman Bill Paxton said. Residents of several areas that had been under pre-evacuation notices were ordered to flee.

An additional 1,500 homes were evacuated Sunday afternoon.

Meanwhile, the massive Wallow fire that has been burning in eastern Arizona for three weeks kept about 200 residents of Luna, N.M., under an evacuation order for a second day.

With summer rains still weeks away, forecasters said fire crews would likely have little relief from the hot, windy weather.


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