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Fire whipping across northeastern Arizona, evacuations ordered

VERNON, Ariz. (AP) -- A wind-whipped wildfire is burning in northeastern Arizona about halfway between Springerville and Show Low and has grown to more than 2,000 acres which is 3 square miles.

The San Juan Fire was reported about noon Thursday southeast of the small community of Vernon.

Apache County officials say the wildfire had charred about 100 acres by 2 p.m. and grew quickly, fanned by wind gusts of 33 mph.

Authorities say the cause of the fire is under investigation.

Bureau of Indian Affairs Forestry and Wildland Fire Management officials say the wildfire is moving in a north-easterly direction into the Apache Sitgreaves National Forest, where thinning projects could slow the blaze.

Mandatory evacuations have been ordered for the Red Cabin Ranch sub division and Whiting Homestead as of 7:20 p.m. on Thursday, according to the Apache Sitgreaves National Forest.

County officials said residents in the areas of Green Peaks Hideaway are on a non-mandatory pre-evacuation notice.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

A wind-whipped wildfire in northeastern Arizona's White Mountains charred more than 1 1/2 square miles by Thursday evening, authorities said.

The San Juan Fire was reported at about noon southeast of the small community of Vernon, which is about halfway between Springerville and Show Low and has about 2,500 residents.

The fire had charred about 100 acres by 2 p.m. and grew quickly, fanned by 33 mph wind gusts, Apache County officials said.

It was burning in a northeasterly direction into the Apache Sitgreaves National Forest, where ongoing thinning projects "will definitely help slow down any fire activity," forest supervisor Jim Zornes said.

Residents in the areas of Red Cabin Ranch, Whiting Homestead and Green Peaks Hideaway were being advised of a potential nonmandatory evacuation. A dozen structures reportedly were threatened, but it wasn't immediately clear if any were homes.

County officials said a group of Boy Scouts voluntarily evacuated a camp near Green's Peak Hideaway and a group of girls voluntarily left a camp south of Vernon.

The cause of the fire was under investigation.

Sgt. Richard Guinn, Apache County's Emergency Services Coordinator, said authorities have identified the point of origin in a forest area commonly used by campers about 16 or 17 miles east of Show Low.

Four hotshot crews, five heavy air tankers and several engines and bulldozers were battling the fire.

Forest officials said a Type II incident management team, the second-highest level available, will take charge of the fire Friday.

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bjredmond64 June 27 2014 at 10:38 AM

more of our beautiful country up in smoke. i guess it has to happen, but it always breaks my heart.

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bracca June 27 2014 at 11:20 AM

THIS IS MY FAVORITE PLACE ON EARTH! Sitgreaves has the purest air in our country, and the third purest in the world. From Sitgreaves you can see the Mongollen rim which is a range going into Colorado. My heart aches for the damage this fire has done already, and I hope they get the fire out, soon. They are working hard at it.

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1 reply
Sandy bracca June 28 2014 at 1:48 AM

Yes it is! I was just in that area during Memorial weekend - Oh No !! :(

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HEIDE June 27 2014 at 12:13 PM

We build pipelines and we spend lots of money to rebuild areas detroyed by fires and floods. What would it take to reroute rivers during floods to help drought stricken areas? We have the brain power in this country to find a solution

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2 replies
larry HEIDE June 27 2014 at 4:41 PM

Good point. Under this administration, it makes too much sense. They would have to do an intensive and expensive, investigation, raise the national debt anothe trilion dollars and in the process will lose all the emails. Then they will plead the 5th. Next, their hard-drives will crash and Pelosi will say "we have to pass the bill before we know what's in it". Chances are, your good idea will never see the light of day. If it did, Harry Reid would block it. 2016 cannot get here soon enough for me.

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jeffc152 HEIDE June 28 2014 at 3:00 AM

But you don't have the brain power to realize the problem.

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larry June 27 2014 at 4:33 PM

Obviously, AOL needs a spell-checker. Hot far the fire has spread ???

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1 reply
CwbyWyatt4U larry June 27 2014 at 11:47 PM

there idiots plain and simple thank you for pointing that out it saved me the time lol

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neysakirby June 28 2014 at 2:22 PM

We have a cabin in the Hideaway... we are currently out of state and are having a hard time getting up to date information.
Google maps are not accurate to scale numbers, we see the distance from our cabin to the fire as 500 miles!
Any links to accurate mapping of the actual fire distance to Green's Peak Hideaway would be greatly appreciated. It is a hard thing to know that we may lose our Little 'Peace' Of Heaven.

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