Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Oh My God,,,,,,,,, : Wildfires burn 1.4 million acres across 12 states

As a legion of firefighters battle the stubborn Wallow Fire in east central Arizona and west central New Mexico, colleagues in 10 other U.S. states also have their hands full with dozens more wildfires.

The Wallow fire is just one of 53 large uncontained wildfires burning in the United States, from Alaska to Florida, according to the National Interagency Coordination Center. All told, the fires have burned 2,166 square miles or 1.4 million acres -- nearly the size of Delaware.

About 10,400 firefighters are involved in efforts to contain the fires, with more than 7,000 of them in Arizona and New Mexico, where fires have burned 853,518 acres, according to the center.

The largest of the fires continues to be the Wallow Fire, which has burned 527,774 acres so far, the fire's incident command team announced Tuesday, and is about 58% contained.
Wildfires burn in North Carolina

While residents in Greer, Arizona, are being allowed to return home, evacuation orders remain in effect in other parts of Arizona and in Luna, New Mexico. Residents in parts of Apache County, Arizona, also have been told to be prepared to evacuate should the need arise.

Power has been fully restored in Alpine and Nutrioso, Arizona, but remains out in areas north of Blue River, fire officials said.

In Texas, a fast-moving fire near Grimes County destroyed at least 26 homes as it burned across more than 4,000 acres.

The fire was caused by homeowners grilling near Stoneham, Texas, CNN affiliate KHOU-TV reported.

Grimes County Sheriff Don Sowell said officials have identified a person of interest who is believed to have built the barbecue pit that started the fire, but as of now authorities do not believe there was any intent of arson.

The speed of the fire forced evacuations of whole subdivisions throughout the area.

Jerome Seeberger, who owns 40 acres of land in Grimes County, said there's just one word to describe the scene.

"Apocalypse," he told KHOU as he stood in front of a backdrop of charred trees. "I've never seen anything like this. Such a beautiful forest two days ago and now look at it."

In North Carolina, Forest Service officials said they are closely monitoring a fire in Pender County, which has burned more than 4,000 acres.

Though evacuations have not been ordered, residents of Pender County said they are worried. Diane Kuzina's voice broke as she described the fire's path. Kuzina owns land near the Pender County line.

"I don't want to lose my home," she said. "It's just scary."

The number of wildfires so far this year is below the 10-year average for the United States, according to the U.S. Forest Service. But the number of acres burned is three times that 10-year average, according to the agency.

While some state and local authorities have reported stretched resources from the widespread fires, Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell told Congress last week that there's plenty of capacity to continue fighting fires.

The U.S. Forest Service and the Department of the Interior have about 16,000 trained firefighters available nationwide, Tidwell said.

The agency also has leftover funds from previous years to pay higher-than-usual firefighting costs.

CNN's Craig Bell contributed to this report.
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