Fire crews worked through the night to protect several Arizona mountain communities from a growing forest fire that has forced thousands from their homes and threatens transmission lines that supply electricity as far east as Texas.
The 607-square-mile blaze, the second largest ever in Arizona, is expected to reach the power lines as early as Friday. If the lines are damaged, hundreds of thousands in parts of New Mexico and Texas could face rolling blackouts.
Meanwhile, crews were hopeful that they could slow the fire Thursday if weather predictions hold true. After a few days of driving winds, there was no high-wind warning issued for Thursday.
However, fire officials spoke guardedly late Wednesday as they faced the 12th day of the fire fight.
"Don't get complacent just because we don't have a red flag warning. Ten to 15 mph winds are good winds to drive fire, especially through grass, so we're going to have to be very careful," fire information officer Jim Whittington said at a late night briefing Wednesday at a rest stop on the edge of Springerville.