Firefighters and crews worked to minimize the damage from massive Wallow Fire in eastern Arizona on Friday, as charred areas grew to more than 600 square miles and claimed its first injuries and homes destroyed, while endangering thousands more.
Crews were worked Thursday to create fire lines with bulldozers ahead of a planned burnouts near Highway 260 going west from Eagar to Highway 373 junction., then southeast to Greer Lake.
There were three minor injuries related to the fire and 22 homes were destroyed on Thursday. More than 3,000 responders are attending to the fire.
Weather conditions have improved from earlier in the week when a 'red flag warning' was in place due to high winds and low humidity. By Sunday, however, critical fire conditions were expected to be possible, according to the National Weather Service. Very dry conditions will continue with wind gusts of up to 35 miles per hour.
The fire which has been raging for nearly two weeks put the evacuated towns of Eagar and Springerville in harm's way on Thursday. The towns were evacuated Wednesday afternoon. More sparsely populated areas near the state's eastern border had already been cleared out previously.
Area Command Team 3 reported that the number of threatened structures grew from 588 on Wednesday to 5,242 by late Thursday.
Meanwhile, authorities were expecting further harm, telling other residents nearby to prepare to leave. Just across the state border, pre-evacuation orders were in place for New Mexico's unincorporated Luna village.
There were 5 damaged homes in the towns of Alpine and Nutrioso, authorities said. Residents would be informed and receive a certified letter confirming the damage.
Arizona National Guard troops have been assisting fire crews with three fuel tanker trucks , 20 palletized load system trucks to help with an logistical and transporation requests.
The office of Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer said no requests for security support have been made at this time.
However two 40-person platoons of military police are ready to respond within 24 hours and coordinate with tne Apache County Sheriff's office.
Second Major Fire
Meanwhile, about 60 miles south the smaller Horseshow Two fire continued to burn. It has charred just over 200 square miles (128,652 acres), according to the Rocky Basin Type-2 Incident Management Team.
More than 1,000 responders are working to mitigate damage, as the fire is 40 percent contained. Twenty-three structures have been destroyed and the cost so far to fight it has reached $33.5 million.