Ariz. Wildfires Threaten Power Supply To Three States - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Ariz. Wildfires Threaten Power Supply To Three States

SPRINGERVILLE, Ariz. - Fire crews worked through the night to protect several Arizona mountain communities from a growing forest fire that has forced thousands from their homes and threatens transmission lines that supply electricity as far east as Texas.

The 607-square-mile blaze, the second largest ever in Arizona, is expected to reach the power lines as early as Friday. If the lines are damaged, hundreds of thousands in parts of New Mexico and Texas could face rolling blackouts.

Meanwhile, crews were hopeful that they could slow the fire Thursday if weather predictions hold true. After a few days of driving winds, there was no high-wind warning issued for Thursday.

However, fire officials spoke guardedly late Wednesday as they faced the 12th day of the fire fight.

"Don't get complacent just because we don't have a red flag warning. Ten to 15 mph winds are good winds to drive fire, especially through grass, so we're going to have to be very careful," fire information officer Jim Whittington said at a late night briefing Wednesday at a rest stop on the edge of Springerville.

Residents remaining in Springerville and the neighboring community of Eagar were evacuated Wednesday as a spot fire popped up on the northwestern edge of the Wallow Fire. That caused officials to worry about the prospect of the fire hooking around a bulldozer line and a burned out area and racing toward town.

Apache County sheriff's deputies and other law enforcement officers went house-to-house in Springerville looking for any remaining residents.

According to The Arizona Republic, a flier issued by the sheriff's office warned: "There may be no opportunity for first responders to return and check on you."

"Consider this notice your final warning to leave."

'Worst-case scenario'
About 7,000 people live in Springerville, Eagar and surrounding areas, although many already had left before the sheriff ordered the full evacuation.

Fire information officer Peter Frenzen told the newspaper that if the fire ramps up in the area, "it'll throw bigger embers that'll last longer." Firefighters were "looking at the worst-case scenario, where they're moving through neighborhoods extinguishing spot fires," the report quoted him as saying. >>>CLICK HERE TO READ MORE

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