US & Canada

Arizona forest fire threatens town of Greer and others

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Media captionWildfires have spread across hundreds of square miles of forest

More than 2,300 firefighters are battling one of the largest blazes ever to break out in the state of Arizona.

The rapidly moving fire, covering 287 sq miles (743 sq km), is threatening mountain communities in the east of the state.

Smoke from the burning pine forests can be seen in the neighbouring states of New Mexico and Colorado.

Forecasters said conditions could get worse on Monday as winds are expected to pick up.

Arizona Governor Jan Brewer, who flew over the fire, described it as "horrific".

Most residents of the resort town of Greer, in the White Mountains, left on Saturday, packing their belongings in to vehicles as what is being called the "Wallow Fire" moved closer.

The few who remain in the town, just seven miles (11km) from the fire's frontline, are under a pre-evacuation order, ready to leave at short notice.

Residents in the towns of Alpine and Nutrioso are also standing by to evacuate.

Several towns near the New Mexico border - including Escudilla Mountain Estates, Bonita and Dog Patch - were evacuated on Sunday.

Fire crews were lighting lines of smaller controlled fires in an effort to contain the advance of the wind-driven main blaze.

Some 2,315 firefighters from several states, including New York, are on the scene fighting the blaze, according to local media, at a total cost of $3m (£1.83m).

It is being described as the third largest fire in the state's history.

A blaze in 2002 burnt through 732 sq miles in the centre of the state and another in 2005 that scorched 387 sq miles near Phoenix.

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