Monument Fire grows to 5,200 acres; hundreds evacuated

2011-06-14T16:20:00Z 2011-06-14T22:49:13Z Monument Fire grows to 5,200 acres; hundreds evacuatedBy Jamar Younger Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
June 14, 2011 4:20 pm  • 

Several hundred homes were evacuated Tuesday southeast of Sierra Vista because of a fast-moving wildfire that has already burned down several residences, officials said.

The Cochise County Sheriff’s Department issued the evacuation order for residents of Ash Canyon, Stump Canyon, Lower Stump Canyon, Turkey Track and Hunter Canyon, said sheriff’s spokeswoman Carol Capas.

As of Tuesday night, the Monument Fire — one of three major wildfires in eastern Arizona — had burned about 5,200 acres and was spreading rapidly, said Denise Shultz of the Type 1 Incident Command Team in charge of fighting the fire.

The human-caused blaze was 10 percent contained. It began Sunday near the border in the Coronado National Memorial, then quickly spread to the north and east.

The fire jumped Arizona 92 Tuesday evening about one mile east of Ash Canyon, fire officials said.

The highway was reopened in Hereford but closed between Three Canyons and Valley View Elementary School in Hereford, south of Sierra Vista, according to the Sheriff’s Department.

Several homes were destroyed by the blaze, but a fire official didn’t know how many.

The Sheriff’s Department was expected today to evaluate the number of homes destroyed, Shultz said.

The fire was threatening 120 homes and 30 other buildings Tuesday evening, she said.

But “several hundred” homes were evacuated, Capas said.

The evacuees were moved to Palominas Elementary School, where the Red Cross was assessing their needs, said Red Cross Executive Director Richard White.

Some residents were able to stay at their homes Tuesday night, but that didn’t alleviate their fears.

“The fire is still a mile or more away from my property, but it still worries me to death,” said Nicholas Waller, who responded through Facebook. “I feel bad for all the people living in that area who have to evacuate.”

Waller lives in Hereford, east of the fire, he said.

Although Waller didn’t have to evacuate, he helped some of his friends who had to move, he said.

A fire information meeting will be held at 6 tonight at the Windemere Hotel & Conference Center, 2047 S. Arizona 92.

Contact reporter Jamar Younger at jyounger@azstarnet.com or 573-4115.

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