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U.S. Wildfires have scorched 2.5 million acres this year

The Horseshoe Two Fire in Arizona. PHOTO BY MICHELLE FIDLER.

The average for this time of year is 857,000 acres; extreme fire conditions continue across Texas, Southwest

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Fire officials say they’ve achieved 95 percent containment of the 17,500-acre Tunner Fire that burned on the border of Colorado and Kansas in the Cimarron National Grasslands, about four miles north of Elkhart, Kansas.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation. The fire burned in short grass and is still creeping and smoldering within the perimeter but crews will demobilize some resources and start rehabilitation in the next few days.

Across the country, the National Interagency Fire Center is reporting seven new large fires in the past 24 hours. Major fires are burning in Texas (9), New Mexico (7), Arizona (5), Florida (3), and one each in Georgia, California, Kansas and North Carolina.

This year to-date more than 25,000 fires have burned across 2.55 million acres, the most in the past 10 years and four times the average. The only year that came close was 2006, with 2.33 million acres burned through the first week of May. By comparison, last year the total was 335,000 acres. The 10-year average is 857,000 acres.

A second wildfire in Colorado has spread acres 200 acres in Bristlecone pine, Spruce-fir and aspen stands and grasslands near Kenosha Pass in Park County. The Snyder Creek Fire is about 40 percent contained with 85 firefighters on hand. The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

Latest updates on the fires are online at http://www.inciweb.org.

On the Arizona – New Mexico border, the Horseshoe Two Fire, near Portal, has spread across more than 10,000 acres, driven by gusty, erratic winds, and local officials are recommending evacuations for several hundred residents in the area. The evacuation includes the Cave Creek Recreation Area.

The Miller Fire in New Mexico, 25 miles north of Silver City, has grown to more than 50,000 acres and crews battled Tuesday to keep the flames from torching the Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument visitor center. Evacuations are still in effect for the Gila Hot Springs area. Officials believe the fire was human-caused.

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