ALPINE, AZ - Fire crews tell ABC15 the Wallow Fire in eastern Arizona has grown to more than 233,000 acres.
The latest area map given to ABC15 by fire officials showed 233,553 have been scorched by the blaze, although officially the fire size still sits at 192,746.
Authorities ordered more residents to evacuate their homes Sunday as the massive blaze that has already grown into the third-largest in state history crept toward buildings.
Officials said about 2,315 personnel are on scene fighting the blaze.
The fire is expected to grow given a windy forecast and dry lightning possible Monday. Wind Advisories and Red Flag Warnings for fire danger are posted. Winds there will gust at 40-45 mph and conditions will be very dry with humidity levels around 5-15%. The same goes for tomorrow.
The Apache County Sheriff's Office on Sunday told an unknown number of people east of the town of Alpine along U.S. Highway 180 to get out as the forest fire crept closer.
Alpine itself has been under mandatory evacuation orders since Thursday night, along with the community of Nutrioso and several lodges and camps in the scenic high country.
The community of Greer and the surrounding areas remain on pre-evacuation notice after residents were first alerted Friday night.
A pre-evacuation notice from the Catron County Sheriff's Office is also in place for the residents of Luna, New Mexico and the surrounding areas.
Crews continue working to protect homes in Alpine and nearby Nutrioso from the fire and blowing embers that could start smaller, spot fires.
The fire had reached Alpine's outskirts and was about 2 miles away from homes in Nutrioso, said Bob Dyson, a spokesman for the team fighting the blaze. The fire has destroyed at least one home in the community of Nutrioso.
ABC15's Steve Irvin is on his way to the fire to join Katie Raml and Tim Vetscher already covering the story. Look for updates day and night on ABC15.com and ABC15 News.
Governor Jan Brewer traveled to Springerville Saturday afternoon to meet with fire officials. She also took an aerial tour of the fire scene to get an appreciation for its scope and size, said Matthew Benson, a spokesman for Brewer.
"It was horrific and the likes of a fire I've never experienced from the air before. It's quite humbling," Brewer said.
Current evacuations include the residents of Blue River, ordered by Greenlee County officials.
Other areas that have been evacuated include Alpine, Nutrioso, Hannagan Meadow Lodge, Sprucedale Guest Ranch, Brentwood Church Camp, Hannagan campground, KP campground, West Fork Black River campground, and East Fork Black River campground, according to the Incident website.
Officials said the fire has cost $3 million to fight so far.
The fire remained zero percent contained as of Sunday morning, officials said.
The Apache National Forest has been temporarily closed due to extreme fire conditions.
Friday, officials said a Verizon tower and radio repeater were damaged, along with a utility trailer and outbuilding in Alpine.
The U.S. Forest Service said Friday that four summer rental cabins burned in the Wallow wildfire, which was consuming dead and dry trees and brush in the White Mountains near the New Mexico border.
Smoke from the fire that started nearly a week ago is being carried all the way to Albuquerque, New Mexico, some 200 miles away.
The yellowish smoke in Alpine was so heavy that it reduced visibility to about a quarter mile.
The U.S. Forest Service says the Wallow Fire is the third largest wildfire in state history.
The biggest, the Rodeo-Chediski, burned 469,000 acres in 2002 and the Cave Creek complex fire burned 248,000 acres in 2005.
The fourth largest is the Willow Fire, which burned 120,000 acres in 2004.
Volunteers are handling phones at the White Mountain Joint Information Center. Anyone looking for information should call 928-333-3412.
Copyright 2011 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
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