June 5, 2011- In mountain communities of eastern Arizona backfires were being set early Sunday to try and stop the advancing wildfire that has been termed as being frightening by Arizona Governor Jan Brewer. The fire has already consumed over 225 square miles of brush and forest. There have already been evacuations in several small towns but the number of total evacuees is uncertain. There is still zero containment of the fire near the Arizona-New Mexico state line.
The fire is the third largest on record for the state at 144,000 acres and has sent smoke into Colorado and New Mexico. Along highways 191 and 180, backfires were being set try and rob the fire of fuel as it advances. Early on Sunday fire authorities said that over 1,300 fire fighters were on the scene including many from different states including Oregon and as far away as New York.
Since the fire started on May 29 there has only been four summer cabins that were not saved by firefighters. On Saturday the fire had reached to within two miles of Alpine a town near the state line with New Mexico. Homes were in danger of burning as the advancing fire continued its trek with smoke was so heavy visibility was less than a quarter mile.
Meanwhile firefighters were battling a second blaze by protecting two communities and a church camp from the Horseshoe Two fire. The fire has charred over 156 square miles of the far southeastern corner of Arizona. The fire grew in size overnight Saturday to over 100,000 acres.
The fire is over 50% contained, has been burning since May 8 and there are over 800 firefighters battling the blaze.