Ariz. Residents Flee Second Wildfire

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Firefighters continued their efforts to fight the blazing wildfire near Flagstaff, Ariz. on Monday as authorities urged hundreds of residents to flee their homes.

The fast-spreading wildfire ignited early Sunday and grew to in size to more than 7 square miles by evening, according to fire officials. Strong winds to feed the flames were expected to continue.

Nearly 3,000 acres of land have been burned, and more than a thousand homes have been evacuated.

"When something like this happens, it makes you thankful for the things you do have," said Arizona resident Jennifer Whitehair, who was having lunch in town when she learned her neighborhood was being evacuated. "The material things seem less important, although in one sense it's your life."

So far, no houses have been destroyed, and there have been no reported injuries. The cause of the fire is not yet known.

A Careless Camper

Sunday's blaze is the second serious fire to threaten the area in two days.

A California man was arrested on suspicion of setting the fire by leaving behind hot coals at a campfire in a wooded area located roughly two miles from downtown Flagstaff.

"As far as we understand, this was not a deliberate act. It was a careless act," city spokeswoman Kimberly Ott said.

Arizona, a state which has seen two wildfires burn more than 3,000 acres each in the last month, is considered a high risk area for such catastrophes.

"The Southwest had a wet winter and then the spring turned dry," said Rick Ochoa of the National Interagency Fire Center in Idaho. That combination has "increased the fire potential quite a bit in the Southwest," he said.

Residents likely won't experience relief until next month, when the state's monsoon season begins.

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