New Mexico fire rages; dozens of homes threatened
by Susan Montoya Bryan, Associated Press
June 17, 2014 02:20 PM | 647 views | 0 0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
This photo provided by the Sedona Fire District shows firefighters working near a wildfire that broke out Monday, June 16, 2014, in northern Arizona's scenic Oak Creek Canyon just north of a blaze that charred 31 square miles last month. The so-called Junipine Fire was believed to have been sparked by a downed power line, authorities said. (AP Photo/Sedona Fire District)
This photo provided by the Sedona Fire District shows firefighters working near a wildfire that broke out Monday, June 16, 2014, in northern Arizona's scenic Oak Creek Canyon just north of a blaze that charred 31 square miles last month. The so-called Junipine Fire was believed to have been sparked by a downed power line, authorities said. (AP Photo/Sedona Fire District)
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This image provided by Inci Web shows a plume of smoke in the Chuska Mountains near Naschitti, N.M. on Sunday, June 15, 2014. Residents of a Navajo community near the New Mexico-Arizona border prepared for evacuations Monday as strong winds fanned the flames of a wildfire burning in the Chuska Mountains. Fire officials were conducting reconnaissance missions to get a better handle on the fire's size, but Navajo Nation officials said more than 3 square miles have been charred since the fire was first reported Friday. (AP Photo/Inciweb)
This image provided by Inci Web shows a plume of smoke in the Chuska Mountains near Naschitti, N.M. on Sunday, June 15, 2014. Residents of a Navajo community near the New Mexico-Arizona border prepared for evacuations Monday as strong winds fanned the flames of a wildfire burning in the Chuska Mountains. Fire officials were conducting reconnaissance missions to get a better handle on the fire's size, but Navajo Nation officials said more than 3 square miles have been charred since the fire was first reported Friday. (AP Photo/Inciweb)
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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A fire that has forced residents of two Native American communities on the Arizona-New Mexico border from their homes and is threatening the heart of the Navajo Nation's sheep industry is growing larger.

Fire officials say the Assayii (ah-SAH'-he) Lake Fire has ballooned to more than 19 square miles. The flames already have destroyed four structures. About 50 homes near the rural communities of Naschitti (NAS'-chit-ee) and Sheep Springs are threatened.

Crews were bracing Tuesday for wind gusts up to 50 mph, along with more high temperatures and low humidity levels.

In California, diminishing winds have helped firefighters surround 75 percent of a blaze burning in the southern Sierra Nevada. Residents were told late Monday they could return to some 1,000 mountain homes.

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

Diminishing winds have helped California firefighters surround 75 percent of a wildfire in the southern Sierra Nevada.

Fire spokeswoman Cheryl Chipman said Tuesday there was no overnight growth of the blaze near Lake Isabella, northeast of Bakersfield.

Late Monday residents were told they could return to some 1,000 mountain homes.

Three houses have been destroyed by fire, which has charred more than 4 square miles of trees and brush in and adjacent to Sequoia National Forest.

Chipman says calmer winds have allowed firefighters to make significant progress.



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