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Firefighters battle blazes across state


A blaze sparked by a car fire in the Tonto National Forest near the town of Sunflower had burned 170 acres by yesterday evening but was expected to be fully controlled by sunrise, forest officials said.

About 135 firefighters battled the blaze in 100-plus degree heat. The fire did not damage any buildings although it briefly threatened a handful of businesses and homes and forced several campers to evacuate from a site at Bushnell Tanks over the weekend, said Joyce Hassell, a forest spokeswoman.

Officials believe the fire, which started Sunday afternoon along state Highway 87, was sparked by a car fire alongside the road.

Meanwhile, about 25 miles north of St. Johns, firefighters fought high winds and steep terrain to battle the “`Witch Well’ fire, which was about 40 percent contained yesterday.

The fire blackened 680 acres of state land since it began Sunday afternoon, most likely by lightning, said Jeannine Colp, a spokeswoman for the State Land Department.

Another lightning-caused fire, this one on the Navajo Nation near the highway town of Houck, was fully contained early yesterday morning.

The “Allentown Fire’ had burned 3,114 acres and displaced five families before firefighters had it under their control.

The blaze, just off of Interstate 40 near the New Mexico border, started Friday. It was the 84th on the Navajo Nation since January. Until the Allentown fire, however, this year’s biggest brush fire on the Navajo Nation was five acres.

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