Anticipated midday winds had crews furiously working to beef up containment lines around a 6,000-acre wildfire burning less than a mile from homes in two eastern Arizona subdivisions, authorities said Wednesday.
The fire, which was 40 percent contained, was moving northeastward. High winds would likely hasten the blaze's movement toward the subdivisions, said Bob Dyson, spokesman for the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest.
An estimated 300 firefighters spent Tuesday night improving containment lines on the blaze's western and northern boundaries and looking for hot spots on the eastern flank.
"By 5 p.m., we'll have an idea if we'll be successful. If it hasn't crossed by then, it shouldn't cross the lines," Dyson said at midmorning Wednesday.
An evacuation was ordered late Monday afternoon for 26 threatened homes in the two subdivisions on the fire's northern flank. Some residents in the subdivisions about 10 miles north of Heber obeyed the order, while others chose to stay.
Red Cross shelter
Dyson said 26 evacuees remained at a Red Cross shelter in Heber on Tuesday night while 26 other residents opted to remain in their homes.
One resident attempted to return to his home midday Tuesday by bypassing a checkpoint. He was arrested for suspicion of being intoxicated, said Greg Eavenson, chief deputy for the Navajo County Sheriff's Department.
Crews worked during the day Tuesday to build containment lines on the fire's western and northern boundaries.
A high-voltage power line in the area of the blaze has been de-energized and firefighters were working on keeping the fire east of power line, officials said.
Heber is located 140 miles northeast of Phoenix.
A second wildfire charred about 1,500 acres in northeastern Arizona near the Utah border by Tuesday night, officials said.
The Navajo Mountain fire was 60 miles east of Page, on the Utah side of Navajo Mountain on the Navajo Indian Reservation, according to officials.
The blaze was not threatening any structures.
Four hotshot crews were battling the fire, which was believed to have started Saturday from lightning, said Jim Whittington, a Bureau of Land Management fire information officer.
And a 12,637-acre wildfire complex burning in a wilderness area near Kingman, Ariz., this was 95 percent contained Tuesday, officials said.
Full containment was expected by Thursday morning.