11 Jun 2011

Wildfire 'bigger than Los Angeles' still raging

12:00 pm on 11 June 2011

Firefighters in the American state of Arizona are still fighting to gain control of a huge wildfire that has scorched an area bigger than Los Angeles.

The Wallow fire in eastern Arizona, which has now raged for 13 days, is the second largest in the state's history. The cause is uknown, though it may have been an unattended campfire.

Firefighters have lit controlled burns to diminish the fuel available to the wildfire, and a tanker aircraft has dropped retardant on the flames. But by Friday only 5% of the 1562-square-kilometre blaze had been contained.

Winds have been moving the flames up to 10 kilometres a day.

Twenty-two houses in the town of Greer were confirmed destroyed and five damaged, while thousands of people have been evacuatef from towns in eastern Arizona

About 2500 firefighters have at various time been in action, some coming from as far away as New York.

As well as Arizona, smoke is said to be visible in New Mexico, Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas and Colorado - where some municipal health departments have issued air-quality warnings.