Fire evacuation order on 2 large AZ towns lifted

June 12, 2011 - 2:14 PM
Arizona Wildfires

A police officer wears a mask while manning a checkpoint as smoke from the Wallow Fire fills the air near Springerville, Ariz., Saturday, June 11, 2011. Smoke from the huge wildfire in eastern Arizona that has claimed more than 30 homes and forced nearly 10,000 people to flee has officials worried about serious health impacts to residents and firefighters as tiny particles of soot in the air reached

SPRINGERVILLE, Ariz. (AP) — Authorities are letting residents of two Arizona towns return home as some of the threat from a massive forest fire wanes.

About 7,000 people in the towns of Springerville and Eagar were evacuated Tuesday and Wednesday as the fire approached. Apache County Sheriff's Cmdr. Webb Hogle said Sunday morning that the residents can now go home.

But officials also say they would be better off staying away for now because of hazardous air quality from smoke.

About 2,700 other people who live in mountain resort communities are still under an evacuation order.

Firefighters battling the 693-square-mile inferno were more upbeat Sunday then they have been since the fire broke out on May 29. They say high winds Saturday actually helped them by burning out fuels before the fire reached their lines.