Arizona Wildfire Grows But No Evacuations Yet

A 6,000-acre wildfire near the New Mexico line continued to grow Friday but kept its distance from homes in this tiny mountain community.


NUTRIOSO, Ariz. (AP) -- A 6,000-acre wildfire near the New Mexico line continued to grow Friday but kept its distance from homes in this tiny mountain community.

The blaze remained about 10 percent contained and was a little more than a mile from the area designated as the trigger point for evacuations, authorities said.

Firefighters, who had been hampered by heavy wind earlier in the week, expected calmer conditions Friday, said Pete Schwab, air operations director for the crew fighting the fire.

``At this time, it's about the same level of alertness,'' fire crew spokesman Bob Dyson said.

The fire, in the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest, was three to four miles southwest of the community of Nutrioso, which has 400 to 500 residents and a single restaurant. The closest supplies and gas are eight miles away.

Resident Penny Chipman said she and her husband have had their truck packed with necessities and sentimental items since the county sheriff's office told them Tuesday to be ready to evacuate in as little as 15 minutes.

``I feel like a clock wound up waiting for the alarm to go off,'' said Chipman, 60.

Officials believe the fire was likely ignited by a camper outside a designated campground, but authorities had no immediate suspects, Dyson said.

In New Mexico, meanwhile, firefighters were bolstering lines around a blaze that has burned 57,500 acres in Lincoln National Forest, in the Capitan Mountains. The fire was 80 percent contained.

Winds forecast for Thursday afternoon weren't as strong as predicted and fire lines held, fire officials said. A dozen cabin have burned.

To the northwest, officials in Albuquerque said a fire that destroyed two buildings and led to the evacuation of more than 100 homes was sparked by metal work, and three men were arrested on charges of negligence, officials said.

The fire had burned an estimated 80 acres and continued smoldering Friday but officials said the flames were staying on the ground.