Ariz. Crews Cannot Contain Growing Wildfire

PORTAL, Ariz. --

Fire crews have lost containment of the Horseshoe II wildfire. Officials said the wind and terrain are making this fire a nightmare to battle.

Wednesday morning, officials announced the Horseshoe II wildfire had grown to 73,000 acres and was expected to surpass 90,000 before fire fighters got the massive flames contained. Now they are concerned about an additional 50,000 to 75,000 acres catching fire.

“Every few days we’d have a big wind event and the fire would take off again,” Jim Payne with Southwest Incident Management Team said during a community meeting with nearby residents in Rodeo, N.M. “This fire is now the fifth largest in Arizona history.”

Payne said more than 900 fire fighters are working 16-hour shifts to battle the blaze which started around 10:23 a.m. on May 8.

"It's a fire caused by humans because there were no reports of lightning strikes in the area during that time period," Payne said.

"I'm zero percent worried because I trust them. They sound like they know what they’re doing and I listen to them," said John Cassidy, who lives just miles from the fire near the town of Portal.

According to Payne, crews began controlled burns Wednesday morning in an effort to gain an upper hand on the fire which has left 14 fire fighters injured.

But if winds pick up again, flames could jump the fire lines, putting homes in danger near the town of Paradise.

The total cost to fight the fire has been $22 million so far, Payne said.

Copyright 2011 by All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.