Thousands flee as two massive wildfires sweep Arizona

Two large rural Arizona fires have scorched more than 138,000 acres and forced thousands of residents from their homes.

Firefighters in the eastern part of the state are tackling the Telegraph Fire, which has burned 71,756 acres and the Mescal Fire that has charred 66,913 acres.

Authorities say that the Telegraph Fire has burned since last week but is zero per cent contained, while the Mescal Fire is 23 per cent contained.

At least 2,500 homes in Gila County have been evacuated, said Carl Melford, the county emergency manager.

And he estimated that there was twice as many households with bags packed just in case they have to leave quickly.

“Over the past three years, we’ve had some pretty extreme fire seasons,” said Mr Melford.

“We’ve become very familiar with the process with what it takes to evacuate a community. But this is the largest evacuation to date.”

The Telegraph Fire destroyed the remote cabin of Arizona House Speaker Rusty Bowers, which his family uses as a weekend retreat.

The Republican politician told ABC15 News Arizona that his family left the cabin with as much as they could carry on Saturday as the fire moved in it direction.

“We took off,” said Mr Bower.

Officials say that nearly 750 fire fighters have been working to extinguish the fire, which expanded with the help of low humidity and gusty winds.

Firefighters are dropping flame retardant from the air as well as carrying out some controlled burns.

Authorities have said that the fire was human-started but have not provided any additional details.

The smaller Mescal Fire is several miles to the east, where fire officials have lifted evacuation orders for residents in San Carlos, Soda Canyon and Coyote Flats.

The community of East El Capitan remains in a mandatory evacuation.

The cause of the fire, which has mostly burned desert brush, oak and grass, is still under investigation.

Meanwhile, in the north of the state a smaller wildfire was reported 23 miles north of Flagstaff, Arizona.




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