Wildfires continue to grow here in the desert southwest, fueled largely by strong winds. About 800,000 acres have been consumed in the series of fires here in Arizona. However, there does appear to be some progress with the Monument fire. It still has extreme growth potential but is now 59% contained. The fire has consumed almost 30,000 acres in Arizona and another 15,000 in Mexico.
Authorities lifted an evacuation of almost 300 homes in the Sierra Vista area. They said successful burn protection lines will keep the area safe. According to Sheriff Larry Dever, of Cochise County, the 300 residents who are still evacuated, may return to their homes as early as Saturday. The fire has destroyed 57 homes, a five-unit apartment building and five businesses.
Sheriff Larry Dever said, "It wasn't the rabbits or rattlesnakes that started this fire. It was human beings. And the only human beings believed to be occupying or traveling through there at the time were smugglers or illegal aliens. And there's nothing to suggest it was anything else."
Night operations will continue with line burns and clean up of hot spots. The Monument fire is expected to be contained by July 15th.