Authorities are having a tough time in containing one of the worst wildfires that is spreading to the eastern part of Arizona.
The Wallow fire burning in eastern Arizona is approximately 311,481 acres with no level of containment. There are currently rolling blackouts throughout the area due to the testing of the power grid in the community.
The National Weather Service has issued a Red Flag Warning for the area as firefighters are conducting burn out operations as part of the strategy to build fire line for protection.
Spot fires are occurring up to 3 miles ahead of the fire. Firefighter activities include: burnout operations, building fire line, perimeter control, structure protection, and patrolling for spot fires.
Effective immediately, further evacuations have been ordered by the Apache County Sheriff's Office for all the areas south of Hwy 260 and east of Greer, including South Fork and portions of Eagar. Hwy 260 will remain open for the evacuation and will be closed immediately after the evacuation.
Evacuations were also ordered in Sunrise, Greer, Blue River, Alpine, Nutrioso, and the following subdivisions along highways 180/191: Escudilla Mountain Estates, Bonita, White Mtn. Acres, and the H-V Ranch. This area includes CR 4000, CR 4001, and CR 4225.
The evacuation site is located at Blue Ridge High School located at 1200 W. White Mtn. Blvd., Pinetop/Lakeside.
Due to extreme fire conditions, the Apache National Forest is closed to all public entry.
Horseshoe Two Fire
Meanwhile, the Horseshoe Two Fire burning near Portal, Arizona is approximately 106,661 acres and is estimated at 50 percent containment.
Strong, erratic winds and low humidity dominated weather conditions on the fire, causing active fire behavior and short, intense runs. The firelines protecting Chiricahua National Monument and the community of Whitetail were not breached.
However, gusty winds caused an approximately 100 acre spot fire west of containment lines in the vicinity of West Turkey Creek. Firefighters are expecting gusty, erratic winds to continue into the night and through tomorrow.
Meanwhile, the Coronado National Forest will close at noon on June 9, 2011 due to extreme fire danger and concern for public safety.
Arizona faced its worst wildfire event in 2002 when flames swallowed in over 732 square miles and destroyed 491 homes west of the Wallow fire.