A major wildfire in Arizona's eastern mountains burned out of control early Friday after charring more than 603 square miles of timber, destroying dozens of structures and keeping thousands of evacuees away from their homes.
Crews Thursday made progress in burning up fuel ahead of the fire as part of a strategy to choke it on its northern flanks. Smoke from the burn operations puffed shades of black and gray in the hills just above the town of Eagar as grass was singed and trees here and there lit up orange.
Helicopters helped with the operations and a large air tanker dropped fire retardant on the northwestern edge to keep the flames from hooking around and making a run for Eagar and Springerville.
As conditions eased somewhat, fire officials took stock of what the Wallow fire did in the resort community of Greer: 22 homes lost, five damaged, and two dozen outbuildings charred when the fire raced through a day earlier.
Fire information officer Jim Whittington told reporters Thursday night that unfortunately losing home to wildfires has become too common.