Arizona forest fire expands to 233,000 acres

SPRINGERVILLE, Ariz. — Firefighters worked furiously today to save a line of mountain communities in eastern Arizona from a gigantic blaze that has forced thousands of people from their homes and cast a smoky haze over states as far away as Iowa.

Strong winds and lightning storms were expected to make matters worse in an area dotted with cabins and campgrounds that have long provided a cool summer getaway from the oppressive heat of the nearby desert.

Lighter winds a day earlier sent embers flying as far as three miles and triggered a series of spot fires.

The fire had grown to nearly 365 square miles, officials said. Authorities believe an abandoned campfire may have sparked the blaze more than a week ago.

So far, the flames have destroyed five buildings and scorched 233,522 acres of ponderosa pine forest. No serious injuries have been reported. The blaze nearly doubled in size between Saturday and today.


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