Image: Mother, daughter hug next to burned down trailor.
David Mcnew  /  Getty Images
Julie Brunette, right, and her daughter Cortni hug next to the ruins of their family trailer home after it was destroyed in a wildfire on Thursday, in Morongo Valley, California.
updated 6/24/2005 7:17:15 AM ET 2005-06-24T11:17:15

The worst of California’s first major wildfires seemed over Friday but officials said the blazes should serve as a reminder of what’s to come in the region, where heavy winter rains spawned enormous vegetation growth.

“We’re in for a hot, dangerous year,” said California Insurance Commissioner John Garamendi, as he toured burned out-homes.

Wildfires have charred thousands of acres in California and Arizona, reducing several homes to little more than ash.

In California, firefighters hoped to surround by Friday a wildfire that burned 3,000 acres of desert brush. The fire destroyed six homes and threatened as many as 700 for a time Wednesday afternoon.

A blaze near Phoenix burned an estimated 46,000 acres by Thursday and forced the evacuation of about 250 homes.

'Time to leave'
Eric Herrman briefly returned to his $1.5 million Tonto Hills home to retrieve documents and clothing. “When planes started to come drop retardant on my neighbor’s deck, I thought it was time to leave,” he said.

Image: Sheriff's deputy wipes ash from his eyes.
Jeff Topping  /  Getty Images
Maricopa County Sheriff's Deputy Shawn Kinsey wipes ash from his eyes while patrolling in the Tonto National Forest, near Carefree, Arizona, on Thursday.
Crews set backfires to burn up brush in the flames’ path, while using roads and natural barriers to direct the fire away from homes. By Thursday afternoon, the fire was moving north away from Tonto Hills, a neighborhood of multimillion-dollar homes about 20 miles northeast of Phoenix.

Meanwhile, helicopters dropped water to drown the fire around nearby Camp Creek, an area with several cabins with many summertime residents. Some residences had been reduced to chimneys or stoves sitting in fields of ash.

Vincent Francia, the mayor of nearby Cave Creek, said two homes in the Tonto Hills area had been lost, along with 10 cabins in Camp Creek.

Lightning sparks blazes
The fire began as two lightning-sparked blazes Tuesday and spread quickly in hot, dry and breezy weather.

Fire crews in Utah and Idaho also battled lightning-caused fires Thursday, though no structures were threatened and no one had been displaced.

Most of the fires in Idaho started Tuesday when a storm moved through the south-central part of the state, igniting grass that has flourished this year because of an unseasonably wet spring.

In southern Nevada, firefighters tried to control at least 10 lightning-sparked fires that together had burned more than 19,000 acres and cast a smoky haze over the Las Vegas Strip.

The largest charred 15,000 acres south of Las Vegas and prompted the evacuation of 100 people from a Boy Scout camp. Officials described the evacuation as a preventive measure.

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