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Blaze near Mittry Lake fueled by high winds
UPDATED 10:29 p.m.- Hundreds of acres along the Colorado River have been scorched by a massive wildfire which continues to burn uncontrolled.
There have been no reports of injuries or fatalities, but the Mittry Lake area has been evacuated as a precaution.
There were unconfirmed reports of at least one residential structure being destroyed in the blaze, but firefighters with Rural/Metro were able to save a separate at risk home from burning elsewhere in the area.
The wildfire, which began at about 5 p.m. Wednesday, had scorched about 600 acres by 8 p.m.
The fire is not expected to be contained until at least 6 p.m. or later on Thursday.
The fire has burned a swath of brush extending from West Mehring Road - to the east of Bard, California - to the southwest area of Mittry Lake in Arizona.
“At the moment it appears it is all burning to the northeast. It is following the path of the river,” said Charlie McMurdie, Rural/Metro Public Information Officer on behalf of the Bureau of Land Management, which owns the land where the wildfire is raging.
The fire is being driven by savage winds which have whipped the fire into a frenzy. According to Accuweather, there were wind gusts from 40 to 56 miles per hour in the area due to a strong weather system moving to the north.
The winds were expected to die down to about 10 miles per hour by 6 a.m. Thursday.
“The fire just ran and it took out a lot because of the wind,” McMurdie said. “They had multiple acres go in 30 minutes. I believe if it wasn’t for the wind we would not have lost so many acres.”
The area of the inferno is overgrown with low brush and large trees which fuel the fire, McMurdie said.
“The fire is going to start taking the lightest brush first. It will burn nice, quick and fast – like paper. Then you have heavier brush, the bigger trees and bigger bushes, and they start to get warm and heated up and they catch fire. So the wind is going to come along and carry it to the next bush.”
The flames were peaking at about 25 or more feet, McMurdie said.
“We’ve had some really big flames out there.”
High Voltage power lines run through the area of the fire, and while at risk, had not been put out of commission as of press time Wednesday.
“We have power lines out there that are in danger at this time,” McMurdie said. “We have APS on scene keeping track of the power lines. As far as I know (the power lines) have been tripped once. They are trying their best to keep them protected.”
According to BLM, the fire began on the California side of the river and jumped across to the Arizona side soon thereafter.
The fire is being battled by several agencies including the Yuma Proving Ground Fire Department, the Winterhaven Fire Department, Rural/Metro Fire Department, and the BLM.
“They will be here all night all the way through tomorrow,” McMurdie said.
The cause of the fire was unknown as of press time Wednesday.