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Arizona wildfire now the worst in state history

by Jorge Hernandez on June 15, 2011

Firefighters battling the blaze in eastern Arizona made progress on Tuesday, but not before the massive wildfire became the state’s largest ever. Although officials do not have an exact count of how much land the Wallow Fire has burned, CNN reports that it has scorched 733.5 square miles in Arizona and New Mexico, surpassing the size of a 2002 fire.

It’s not all bad news, however. Despite the fact the inferno has destroyed 32 homes, it was around 18 percent contained on Wednesday and there have been no serious injuries reported to have been caused by the fire. Those in charge of combating the blaze have turned their focus to a line of trees near the Burro Mountain and Sunrise Ski Resort.

"There's a line of mixed conifer where that line was put in, and because of that it's requiring a lot of extra suppression efforts," Jayson Coil, a manager with the incident response team, told the news provider. "That mixed conifer holds [heat] for a long time."

The fire remains the largest currently active in the United States, with around 4,700 firefighters working to contain it. However, it is not the only active blaze in the state. A smaller fire located in the southern portion of Arizona has been burning since early May, but is more than half contained.

The Wallow Fire began on May 29, and investigators are still unsure as to what the cause of the massive blaze may have been, although some suspect it was a campfire. In addition to destroying homes, the smoke from the fire has been spread through Texas, Oklahoma and other parts of the Rocky Mountain region, negatively affecting the air quality.

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