SUPERIOR, Ariz. (AP) — Crews made progress toward containing one of two major wildfires in south-central Arizona’s desert hill country, allowing evacuation notices to be lifted for several rural areas though towns elsewhere continued to be threatened.
Areas where evacuations were canceled included the small community of Soda Canyon near San Carlos Lake and San Carlos High School near Peridot, but residents were told to be prepared to evacuate again because of the so-called Mescal fire southeast of Globe, according to an interagency firefighting website.
Hundreds of firefighters were battling the blazes, and while thousands of structures are threatened, none so far have been damaged, and no deaths or injuries have been reported, according to the state’s interagency wildfire prevention website.
The so-called Telegraph Fire has now expanded to more than 96 square miles (248 square kilometers) and is at zero containment, according to the website. A forecast of low humidity and high winds throughout the week will likely facilitate more spread.
The Gila County Sheriff’s Office has issued an immediate evacuation order for part of Miami. The order specifically applies to those who reside west of the town limits, south of U.S. Highway 60 from Dairy Canyon to Mackey Camp.
Two schools are open as shelters.
Evacuations were ordered Sunday for the Top-of-The-World area and northeast of Superior, roughly 60 miles (97 km) east of Phoenix. The Pinal County sheriff’s office also evacuated the Oak Flats campground.
The human-caused blaze has also forced closures of stretches of State Route 177, State Route 77, U.S. 70 and U.S. 60.
More than 200 firefighters have been battling the fire since it broke out Friday. It has so far burned mostly shrub and grass but continues to threaten as many as 150 residents, Tonto National Forest spokesman John Scaggs said Sunday.
The largest type of federal incident management team has assumed control of the operation.
Meanwhile, airtankers and helicopters were assisting more than 500 firefighters working the Mescal Fire about 12 miles (19 km) southeast of Globe. It has grown to more than 83 square miles (215 square kilometers), mostly burning through desert brush, oak and grass, and was only 8 percent contained late Monday.
Some neighborhoods in Globe and the community of Coyote Flats had been evacuated. The cause of the Mescal fire, which started May 31, is under investigation.
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