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More than 2,000 flee AZ fire

Firefighters unable to contain fire that has burned 150,000 acres

PHOENIX (UPI) | June 5, 2011


"We may be just at the beginning of a very nasty fight"

—Brad Pitassi


A week-old wildfire burning its way through Arizona has displaced 2,200 people and was defying firefighting efforts, a state emergency spokesman said.

Brad Pitassi, a spokesman for the Southwest Area Incident Management Team, told CNN the worst of the state's fires had charred at least 150,000 acres, although no injuries or deaths had been reported.

Winds have been responsible for the fire's spread, with embers blowing for miles, officials said.

Pitassi said fire crews from across the country were expected to arrive Sunday to join the 1,300 firefighters struggling to stop the fire's advance.

"We have zero percent containment," he said. "We may be just at the beginning of a very nasty fight."

Incident commander Joe Reinarz told The (Phoenix) Arizona Republic the biggest fire's progress had slowed Saturday and was advancing about 6 miles in a day.

Mandatory evacuations were declared in the communities of Alpine and Nutrioso.

Smoke was seen as far away as Albuquerque, CNN said.

State officials said another blaze in southeastern Arizona was about 50 percent contained.

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer told reporters Saturday she was considering asking for federal disaster funding for the burned-out areas.

Copyright 2011 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.


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