APACHE COUNTY, Ariz. -- Wednesday was a tough day for firefighters, as winds made the fire act very unpredictable. The Apache County Sheriff's Office ordered all residents in Springerville and Eagar to evacuate immediately as a precaution.
Firefighters were pulled out of Greer for their safety. In an evening media briefing fire officials said crews would return to the town to continue to fight the fire.
Officials said they will begin some mopping up on the northeastern side of the fire near Nutrioso.
About 7,000 people live in the towns and surrounding areas evacuated on Wednesday, although many had already left. The order came as a spot fire made it past fire lines. No flames had been reported in the towns of Springerville or Eagar.
Highway 260 is closed in both directions east of the Hawley Lake turnoff and Eagar due to the fire. Drivers leaving the are are also discourage from traveling on the U.S. 60 in the area.
Monday afternoon the Apache County Sheriff's Office issued the immediate evacuation of the town of Greer, Sunrise and the surrounding area. Springerville, Round Valley and Eagar were put on a pre-evacuation notice at that time, but areas have since been mandatorily evacuated.
All evacuees in eastern Arizona are encouraged to go to the American Red Cross shelter at Blue Ridge High School, 1200 W. White Mountain Blvd., in Pinetop-Lakeside, or if you choose to go to a different location, evacuees are asked to register with the Wallow Fire Joint Information Center by calling 928-333-3412. The shelter that has been established is a no-pet shelter, but many people have volunteered to watch the evacuees' animals.
On Sunday, the ACSO ordered the immediate evacuation of several subdivisions along highways 180 and 191 near the Arizona/New Mexico state line. Those areas include: Escudilla Mountain Estates, Bonita, Dog Patch and the H-V Ranch. Also included are CR 4000, CR 4001 and CR 4225.
The Wallow Fire has grown to become Arizona's second-largest wildfire in history and as of Friday, stood at more than 408,000 acres. Air and ground crews are currently battling the fire with little containment.
The evacuation of Blue River residents by Greenlee County officials remains in effect. The evacuation order for the communities of Alpine and Nutrioso by Apache County Emergency Management remains in effect.
Residents in the areas of Sprucedale, Beaver Creek Ranch, Beaverhead, Brentwood and residential areas along Forest Road 26 were also evacuated late last week.
The communities of Hannagan Meadow, Spricedale and others also continue to remain evacuated as more crews head to the area to battle against the blaze.
Residents who have been forced to evacuate do not know how long they will be out of their homes. People have been given just hours to get their things together and care for their livestock.
About 250 people are registered at the shelter in Pinetop-Lakeside and a good amount are staying with friends and family.
Note road closures in eastern Arizona:
The Arizona Department of Transportation has closed Highway 191 from Alpine on the north to the Clifton on the south (mileposts 176-253).
State Route 261 is closed starting seven miles south of S.R. 260 to Crescent Lake (mileposts 394-405) and S.R. 273 is closed between Sunrise Park and Big Lake (mileposts 390-397).
US 180 is closed between the S.R. 260 junction near Eagar and the New Mexico state line (mileposts 403-433).
S.R. 373, a 4.5 mile-long highway connecting Greer and Eagar is now closed. No word on when the roadways will re-open.
Red Cross Wildfire Help
To list yourself as an evacuee at the American Red Cross call 1-800-733-2767 or go to their website at safeandwell.communityos.org.
To apply to for disaster assistance with FEMA call 1-800-621-3362 or go to www.disasterassistance.gov.