TUCSON, Ariz. – Strong winds fueled a wildfire in rural southeastern Arizona Thursday, forcing the evacuation of dozens of homes in two small communities, authorities said.
The evacuation order for Paradise and East Whitetail Canyon came Thursday evening, the Cochise County Sheriff's office said.
The winds and high flames pushed the so called Horseshoe Two fire across the north side of Rock Creek Canyon toward the communities.
The Chiricahua National Monument was closed Thursday as a precaution.
The blaze has been burning for days and has charred about 135 square miles of brush and timber. Officials said it had been 75 percent contained until the winds picked up, dropping containment down to 50 percent.
About 800 firefighters are battling the blaze. No structures have been lost.
The U.S. Forest Service said crews are working to protect structures the evacuated communities.
Paradise has about a dozen occupied homes and many other vacation residences, said Carol Capas, a spokeswoman for the Cochise County Sheriff's office. East Whitetail Canyon has about a dozen homes.
Meanwhile, a wildfire burning in northern Arizona has threatened the closure of part of Interstate 40 west of Flagstaff, officials said.
The Engineer fire has burned about 100 acres near Camp Navajo, an Army National Guard Base in Bellemont.
KTVK-TV in Phoenix reports I-40 remains open Thursday night but could close if smoke gets too heavy or conditions become dangerous.
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