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Fire nears homes in AZ

Firefighters were still struggling Wednesday to keep a 2,450-acre away from homes in northern Arizona's Oak Creek Canyon.

BY SUSAN KIM | BALTIMORE | June 21, 2006

Firefighters were still struggling Wednesday to keep a 2,450-acre wildfire away from homes in northern Arizona's Oak Creek Canyon.

The blaze was still only five percent contained on Wednesday afternoon.

On Tuesday the blaze moved within three-quarters of a mile of homes in the area. Authorities sounded emergency sirens warning people to leave. A mandatory evacuation order was issued but fire officials were afraid a significant number of people ignored it.

Power to homes and businesses was being shut down, according to fire information reports from the Coconino National Forest. At least 400 homes and businesses are under a mandatory evacuation order in Oak Creek Canyon, along with 100 additional homes in other canyons north of Sedona. The area is about 90 miles north of Phoenix.

Shelters have been set up in local schools and on the campus of Northern Arizona University.

Most of the homes were on the opposite side of a highway from the fire, and firefighters remained optimistic that they could make a stand against the blaze there.

"We're doing our best to stop this thing," said Jean Gilbertson, a fire information officer with northern Arizona team. "The winds don't help."

Wildfires were also raging in New Mexico, Colorado and California. Four fires had burned more than 30,000 acres in New Mexico. The biggest - a 12,000-acre blaze - threatened homes in Lake Roberts but residents were allowed back on Tuesday.

In southern Colorado, about 270 homes were evacuated in a rural area 10 miles northeast of Fort Garland as a 8,960-acre blaze rapidly grew. In California, a blaze burned 6,000 acres in the Los Padres National Forest but threatened no homes.


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