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Firefighters battle record wildfires in Arizona, but they’re still growing

Almost 150,000 acres of land have caught fire in Arizona

Smoke rises from the Telegraph Fire near Miami and Globe, Ariz.
Smoke rises from the Telegraph Fire, on Monday, June 7, 2021, above Blue Lake, near Miami and Globe, Ariz.
Mark Henle, The Arizona Republic via Associated Press

Arizona is burning. Crews in the southwestern state are currently battling two wildfires — the Telegraph Fire and Mescal Fire — both about 100 miles east of Phoenix, reports CNN.

  • The Telegraph Fire is the 10th largest wildfire in Arizona’s history, according to The Guardian.
  • Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey announced two declarations of emergency on Wednesday to provide an addition $400,000 for response efforts, reported CBS News.
  • No deaths or injuries have been reported for either fire, CNN said.

Combined, the fires are burning over 150,000 acres of land and involve over 1,300 response personnel, reported CBS News. Still, the fires have continued to grow.

How bad are the wildfires in Arizona this year?

Arizona’s wildfire season has just begun but already 132 fire incidents have been reported, said ABC 15. Compared to the last 20 years, the 2021 fires have already burned more land than six previous individual seasons.

The firefighters battling the blaze have accidentally ignited more fires. According to Fire Information Officer Dean McAlister on Tuesday, “even our own fire equipment is starting fires,” per The Guardian.

  • “The blades and the tracks of the (heavy equipment) sparking against the fuels have actually created some fires along the fire line,” McAlister said via The Guardian.

The Telegraph Fire

The Telegraph Fire was first reported June 4. As of Wednesday night, the fire became the 10th largest in Arizona’s history, burning nearly 85,000 acres, reported CNN. Over 750 responders are working to control the blaze.

  • Officials have evacuated 2,500 homes in Gila County — the state’s largest evacuation to date — with twice as many more residents prepared to evacuate, said The Guardian.
  • The fire has burned five structures so far, CNN reported.
  • Almost every major highway in the area has been closed, per The Guardian.

The blaze has reached 34% containment as of Wednesday night, said CNN. The fire is believed to be human-caused and an investigation is underway.

The Mescal Fire

First reported Monday, June 7, the Mescal Fire has burned over 70,000 acres as of Wednesday. Most of the burned area is desert brush, oak and grass, reported The Guardian.

  • Over 610 responders are fighting the blaze, said CBS News.
  • The fire is about 33% contained as of Wednesday, according to The Guardian.

The cause of the fire is unknown and an investigation is underway, said CBS News.

Why are the wildfires so bad this year?

Arizona, like much of the Western U.S., is experiencing an extreme drought. The dry conditions, along with wind and temperature between between 90 and 100 degrees, have increased the state’s fire risk, according to The Guardian.

  • “Arizonans must take the threat of wildfires seriously and follow all safety precautions during these dry months, including following evacuation orders,” Ducey tweeted Wednesday.
  • “I’m grateful to our brave firefighters and everyone working to protect Arizonans this wildfire season,” Ducey said via Twitter.

Officials are optimistic they will make continued progress containing the fires, said CNN.