PRESCOTT VALLEY, Ariz. (AP) — A wildfire burning Wednesday through a dense Arizona forest has forced thousands of people from their homes, closed a major road and created a huge plume of smoke over the same area devastated by a blaze that killed 19 firefighters four years ago.
The fire is burning in communities around Prescott, a mountain city about 100 miles north of Phoenix that draws a mix of desert dwellers escaping the heat, retirees and visitors to its famed Old West-themed Whiskey Row.
The fire has charred 32 square miles while being fanned by winds ranging to 35 mph.
More than 500 firefighters were battling the blaze. A firefighter suffered a minor injury.
The fire has forced the evacuation of Mayer and Dewey-Humboldt along with several other communities, and one of the main roads into Prescott was closed. Dewey-Humboldt has about 4,000 residents; Mayer has about 1,400.
Many residents have painful memories of the 2013 wildfire that killed 19 members of an elite firefighting crew.
“It’s scary because we’re coming up on the four-year anniversary of the Yarnell Hill fire — there’s still a lot of fresh memories,” said Arizona state Sen. Karen Fann, who lives in Prescott and represents the area where the fire is burning.
Elsewhere across the western U.S., a fire in the foothills north of Los Angeles was burning right up to homes.
Dozens of homes were under mandatory evacuation orders on the suburban edges of Burbank, where flames raced uphill through tinder-dry grass.
No homes have been reported destroyed but flames were spotted…
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