PRESCOTT VALLEY, Ariz. (AP) — The Latest on wildfires in the U.S. Southwest (all times local):
Another day of mild winds and 300 added personnel gives firefighters a good chance of building a larger perimeter around a northern Arizona forest fire.
About 1,100 firefighters are now attempting to contain a fire that forced the evacuation of thousands of residents from six Prescott-area communities and an additional 1,400 children from local summer camps.
Yavapai County spokesman Robert Church said containment remained at 43 percent. Officials lifted evacuation orders in one community and reopened a section of a state highway Friday morning.
The fire has since charred almost 40 square miles (104 square kilometers), though a fire official at a community meeting Thursday night estimated 45 square miles (109 square kilometers.) Local officials guessed about four or five structures have been destroyed, but they don’t know whether the structures are homes.
A southern Utah ski resort that’s newly reopened after being evacuated by the country’s largest wildfire is preparing for a more subdued July 4 celebration.
Brian Head resort spokesman Mark Wilder said Friday they’re grateful to firefighters who kept the ski area largely untouched by the flames that have blackened more than 92 square miles.
The usual fireworks display is also off the schedule this year and Wilder expects a smaller crowd than the 15,000 or so people who usually attend.
He says the hundreds of residents allowed back to their homes Friday after two weeks of uncertainty are eager to start putting the pieces back together.
Brian Head town manager Bret Howser said people have been slowly trickling back into town and “good vibes” are in the air.
People are being allowed back to their southern Utah homes for the first time in nearly two weeks as crews increase containment at the country’s largest wildfire.
Fire managers lifted evacuations at the ski town of Brian Head on Friday with the blaze 20 percent contained. Authorities say it’s now torched more than 92 square miles (238 square kilometers), and, at its height, forced the evacuation of 1,500 people.
A state highway closed by the fire remains shuttered, so Brian Head residents will enter from the south. About half of evacuees are from that area.
Hundreds more people forced from their homes in a lakeside community to the east are being allowed back for short periods of time, though the local sheriff’s office says most residents haven’t been allowed to stay.
Authorities have reopened a major route through an Arizona community that barely escaped destruction when a massive wildfire swept into town.
The fire about 100 miles (160 kilometers) north of Phoenix had forced State Route 69 to be shut down, but the closure was lifted early Friday.
The blaze triggered evacuations for thousands of residents in a half-dozen communities and came close to consuming the town of Mayer.
Authorities allowed some evacuated residents back in Thursday and expect to let more return.
Crews secured lines around about 43 percent of the blaze.
The fire has consumed about 45 square miles (116.55 sq. kilometers) of brush and forest.
Authorities estimated that the fire has burned a handful of homes.
Authorities expect to allow more evacuated residents to go home and to reopen a major route through an Arizona community that barely escaped destruction when a huge wildfire swept into town.
State Route 69 though Mayer should re-open Friday. But thousands of evacuees will not be able to go home for days as the fire continues to burn in brush and forest about 100 miles (160 kilometers) north of Phoenix.
The incident commander for the fire that has consumed about 45 square miles (116.55 sq. kilometers) got a big cheer Thursday evening when he announced at a community meeting that crews had secured lines around about 43 percent of the blaze. Still, John Pierson warned several hundred people that the fire could cause more damage.
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