Friday, June 17, 2011

Did a discarded campfire spark the biggest wildfires in Arizona's history? Police quiz two campers after 480,000 acres of land are destroyed 16th June

As smouldering fires continue to burn among the large desolate patches of blackened earth, investigators continue to probe the origins of Arizona's biggest wildfire on record.

Two people are currently being questioned in connection with an unattended campfire which is believed to have started the blaze, the U.S. Forest Service said on Wednesday.

The 'two persons of interest' have not been publicly identified and are not under arrest, Forest Service spokesman Christopher Knopp said, declining to give further details of the investigation.

Meanwhile, ground crews battling the flames for an 18th day took advantage of another lull in high winds to make further headway against the blaze, extending containment lines to 20 per cent of the fire's perimeter, fire officials said.

The so-called Wallow Fire has destroyed or damaged three dozen homes and displaced up to 10,000 people while roaring through more than 700 square miles of tinder-dry ponderosa pine in and around the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest of eastern Arizona.

The fire zone lies in the White Mountains, a picturesque area dotted with vacation cabins and popular as a weekend getaway for Arizonans seeking to escape the summer heat.

The conflagration erupted on May 29, apparently from a campfire left unattended in a thickly wooded stretch of the Bear Wallow Wilderness area, just east of the San Carlos Apache Indian Reservation, said Forest Service spokesman Deryl Jevons. Read More