The Latest: Central California wildfire claims 150 homes


LAKE ISABELLA, Calif. (AP) — The Latest on wildfires burning in the West (all times local):

11:40 p.m.

Firefighters now say a California wildfire has burned 150 homes and the toll may rise.

Crews are busy Saturday counting the houses and mobile homes incinerated by a fire raging through rural communities around Lake Isabella in the southern Sierra Nevada.

Whole blocks have burned to the ground as winds drive the flames through small foothill communities. The fire, which began Thursday, has burned some 56 square miles of tinder-dry brush and trees.

More than 1,100 firefighters are on the line.

Evacuees who have spent days at a shelter were warned Saturday that it’s unclear when they can return.

Some say they’ve learned from friends that their homes are gone.

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10 a.m.

A major highway that had been shut down for several days by a wildfire in eastern Arizona has reopened.

Navajo County spokesman Adam Wolfe said Saturday morning that a stretch of US Highway 60 that is west of the blaze was open to traffic.

However, fire crews and helicopters are still working in the area. Wolfe says motorists should not stop in any emergency operations area.

Part of US 60 happened to be along a containment line of the fire.

The fire, which has burned almost 72 square miles is 51 percent contained.

Firefighters are expecting relative humidity and calmer winds to help in securing the fire.

The fire started June 15 and the cause remains unknown.

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10 a.m.

Firefighters have established a perimeter around a portion of a Utah wildfire burning in a forest on the edge of a small mountain town.

Officials said Saturday that the fire in the Dixie National Forest was about 5 percent contained.

Crews say about 500 properties are threatened.

The Washington County Sheriff’s Office is asking homeowners in the southwestern Utah town of Pine Valley to voluntarily evacuate.

The lightning-caused blaze has charred nearly 2 square miles.

About 530 firefighters are at the scene, but officials say much of the fire area is inaccessible.

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9:36 a.m.

Officials say a massive wildfire in central New Mexico only destroyed half as many homes as initially thought.

A county assessor has determined that a dozen homes and 44 minor structures were damaged.

Crews said Saturday that the 28-square-mile fire in the Manzano Mountains southeast of Albuquerque is now 90 percent contained.

Hundreds of firefighters took advantage of showers and thunderstorms the day before to close in on remaining hot spots.

More moisture is expected this weekend.

The fire forced the evacuation of several small communities and subdivisions along the mountain range.

The human-caused fire began June 14.

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9 a.m.

A dry thunderstorm moved over a wildfire near the Colorado-Wyoming border, but it had little impact where firefighters have battled the blaze to a standstill at 8 square miles.

Fire crews are focusing on protecting buildings and reducing the risk of the fire spreading in an area of heavy timber with a high percentage of beetle kill, and in some areas of grass and sagebrush.

Officials say 40 residences or cabins remain at risk. So far, only a few structures have burned.

Helicopters were used on the fire Friday, but the weather prevented airplanes from making air drops.

Officials are worried that thunderstorms expected this weekend could bring winds that spread the flames.

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