SPRINGERVILLE, Ariz. -- Residents of Nutrioso who were forced to evacuate their homes because of the massive Wallow Fire, which is now the largest in Arizona history, will be allowed home Wednesday.
The announcement was made at a community meeting late Tuesday night, much to the delight of several hundred people. They were evacuated nearly two weeks ago.
"That feels good," said Dave Derka, one of the evacuees. "I want to go home."
"This is a total surprise," said Alan Miller, who expected just to get an update on the fire. He was thrilled to receive the news that he would be allowed home in just a few hours.
"I'm just grateful to all the firefighters and the Forest Service for doing what they have done to protect our homes," he said.
Fire officials warned the residents that crews will continue working in the area.
"There will still be smoke and flames," said Chief Deputy Brannon Eagar of the Apache County Sheriff's Office.
Only property owners will be allowed into the Nutrioso area. Authorities will be checking residents' identification.
Evacuation orders remain in place for Sunrise, Greer, Blue River and Alpine, as well as Luna, N.M. It's not known when those residents will be allowed to return to their homes.