VERNON, AZ - A wildfire burning in eastern Arizona increased from 2,000 acres to 4,000 acres Friday, officials said.
Forest officials said that 90 structures are threatened, including residences, sheds and well houses. Crews said the fire jumped containment lines and that they are working to re-establish those lines.
The wind-whipped fire produced a lot of smoke Thursday afternoon as it quickly grew and that could have inflated some original estimates about its size, authorities said.
A Type II incident management team, the second-highest level available, took charge of the fire Friday because of the continuous fuels ahead of the blaze.
Nine 20-person hand crews, 12 engines, five air tankers and four helicopters were battling the blaze on part of the Fort Apache Indian Reservation and in the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest.
"Fuels treatment has really decreased fire behavior and is allowing crews to work closer to the fire's edge," said Kevin Bailey, a spokesman for the team managing the fire.
A total of 37 summer homes in the Red Cabin Ranch and Whiting homestead areas remained evacuated as a precaution, he said.
More than 200 residents and tourists left the areas by the time evacuations were ordered Thursday night, Apache County sheriff's spokesman Richard Guinn said.
The fire was slowly moving northeast in an area between land parcels that burned in wildfires in 2002 and 2011, according to authorities.
Richard Skalla, a residnt of Vernon, said the fire is something he's never wanted to see if his backyard. He moved to the town with his family so they could ride their bikes through the forest trails.
"All we see if smoke from the house," he said.
If the fire changes direction and moves toward his home, he said he's already prepared.