2 persons of interest being investigated in connection with Wallow Fire

SPRINGERVILLE, AZ - A supervisor with the U.S. Forest Service has confirmed to ABC15 the investigation into the cause of the Wallow Fire has zeroed in on two persons of interest.

"What we've pretty much broken it down to is (the cause) looks like it was a campfire," said Supervisor Christopher Knopp with the U.S. Forest Service. "We've got a couple of people we're talking to on that right now."

Knopp said the Wallow Fire started when the campfire "escaped."

That news came on the heels of another big announcement Tuesday -- the Apache County Sheriff's Office is lifting the evacuation order for Nutrioso.

"This was a total surprise," said Nutrioso evacuee Alan Miller. "I want to go out there now but can't until tomorrow."

Starting at 10 a.m. Wednesday, Nutrioso residents should meet at the intersection of Highways 260 and 180 east of Eagar.

Those who can show ID with a Nutrioso address will be allowed to go home.

Back to the investigation, Knopp also confirmed to ABC15 two separate arson fires were set during the Wallow Fire.

"We had one in Lakeside and one in New Mexico," said Knopp. "Both were clearly arson fires."

When asked if they tried to make it look like it was caused by the wildfire, Knopp responded, "Apparently or just wanted the fire to be bigger."

Knopp declined to give the ages of the two persons of interest or where they're from.

ABC15 has confirmed no arrests have been made. 

Firefighters have been on scene in eastern Arizona for more than two weeks battling the flames as they spread rapidly through miles of ponderosa pines.

Fire officials announced Tuesday crews had begun making progress in the fight to control the growing blaze, reaching 20 percent containment as the battle rages on near the New Mexico border.

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