Warm, dry, breezy weather to challenge fire crews in Arizona

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) — Fire crews battling a pair of wildfires in northern Arizona were expecting some growth Thursday because of warm, dry and breezy conditions.

Both blazes were moving through grass, brush and pine trees on the northern outskirts of Flagstaff, a mountainous city that’s home to Northern Arizona University and the observatory where Pluto was discovered. It’s also a popular respite from the sweltering desert heat.

The larger fire has burned more than 38 square miles (100 square kilometers) and was 27% contained Thursday, down slightly from a day earlier because of burnout operations, fire information officer Mike Reichling said.

The smaller fire has burned more than 8 square miles (21 square kilometers) and was 11% contained.

The forecast calls for a chance of showers and thunderstorms starting Friday and throughout the weekend, which could help suppress the wildfires. Flooding and dry lightning also are concerns.

Some evacuation orders were still in place because of the wildfires, including for the Arizona Snowbowl ski resort.

Authorities have reopened one lane of U.S. Route 89, the primary route between northern Arizona and the Navajo Nation up into Utah. Drivers also use it to get to the east rim of the Grand Canyon.

The largest wildfire in the U.S. is burning in northern New Mexico.

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