The massive Wallow Fire that has raged through eastern Arizona and entered over into neighboring New Mexico burned up so much additional acreage that it is considered the largest fire in Arizona’s history, officials said Tuesday.
The big distinction between the two megafires, though, continues to be the damage. The Wallow Fire continues to be far less damaging than its predecessor, destroying only 31 homes compared to 465 lost a decade ago.
The Wallow Fire is named after the Bear Wallow Wilderness in the Apache and Sitgreaves National Forests, where the fire is considered to have started after a campfire blew out of control on May 29. The fire was 18 percent contained as of Tuesday morning, which firefighters explained represented major progress, despite the fact that containing the fire might still remain weeks away.
“As far and wide and long as this particular fire is, 18 percent contained is small, but it’s something and it exhibits a lot of work has been done,” said Helene Holguin, a speaker for the multiagency firefighting effort.
Citizens from Eagar and Springerville, two Arizona communities on the northern edge of the fire, were permitted to return to their homes on Sunday right after several days absent.
Though the fire continued eating up woodland as winds pushed it in the direction of the northeast. Firefighters were intensely burning backfires in an attempt to retain the blaze, which had extended into New Mexico and endangered the small town of Luna.
The fire has sent plumes of smoke over a extensive area and tied up traffic as many freeways have been closed. Dry weather and fierce winds have caused the fire to spread quickly, frustrating the more than 4,000 firefighters allotted to the fire.
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