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Firefighters holding line on blazes

Hayman threat easing, Rodeo-Chediski still huge

At a firefighters' tent city, residents' signs cheer on those working the Missionary Ridge blaze near Durango, Colorado.
At a firefighters' tent city, residents' signs cheer on those working the Missionary Ridge blaze near Durango, Colorado.  

DENVER, Colorado (CNN) -- In Arizona and Colorado, firefighters have made progress in battling massive, destructive wildfires.

One of the first major fires to break out, the Hayman, appears to be nearing containment in Colorado.

And in Arizona, firefighters have defended the towns of Show Low against the gigantic Rodeo-Chediski fire, although they have still to gain much control over that wildfire.

Thursday, the workers in Colorado neared full containment of a fire that threatened Denver's southern suburbs in its early days.

Officials said they expected to contain the 137,000-acre Hayman fire, Colorado's worst in recorded history, by Friday.

Here's a glossary of common phrases used by fire officials and firefighters  -- terms assembled by the National Interagency Fire Center.
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The Hayman blaze burned 618 structures -- it isn't yet clear how many were homes -- and has cost roughly $27.8 million so far.

Shortly after it began on June 8, the Hayman fire raced northward toward Denver, forcing residents of several communities to flee. Those who live in several more neighborhoods spent some sleepless nights wondering if they might be the next to run.

But the fire has been largely confined to the wooded lands of the Pike National Forest.

Officials have arrested United States Forest Service employee Teresa Barton and charged her with deliberately starting the fire. Barton denies the charges. The trial is scheduled to begin August 26.

Missionary Ridge and Valley fires

Elsewhere in Colorado, a pair of fires north of Durango have taken 77 structures -- 52 of them homes -- and are generating a $16.5 million price tag, with more costs to come.

Firefighters battling the larger of those two, the Missionary Ridge fire, constructed 70 miles of dozer lines (A glossary of wildfire terminology) around the 69,000-acre blaze, and another 3.6 miles around the nearby Valley fire.

The Valley fire, at just under 400 acres, erupted quickly and burned six homes in its initial blaze. More than 200 people were evacuated.

Nine subdivisions have been evacuated on the east side of the Animas River valley, where the Missionary Ridge fire raged.

Arizona's Rodeo-Chediski fire

Smoke billows from fire burning near Carrizo, Arizona.
Smoke billows from fire burning near Carrizo, Arizona.  

Firefighters who successfully defended the town of Show Low, Arizona, prepared early Thursday for another round against an immense and relentless wildfire that has so far defied their best efforts to bring it under control.

Nearly 4,000 workers were deployed against the 640-square-mile Rodeo-Chediski fire, a two-part inferno that swept across east-central Arizona's Mogollon Rim barely fazed by fire lines and air-dropped flame retardants.

But the fire lines held outside Show Low -- an evacuated town of 7,700 and the economic center of the White Mountain region -- despite thunderstorms Wednesday. Those rains brought sudden downdrafts, scattering on hitting the ground in so-called "microbursts."

"The fire has eaten all the fuel that would allow it to make a major run into Show Low," fire information officer Jim Paxon announced late Wednesday.

Firefighters have contained about 5 percent of the 409,000-acre blaze, all of it in the Pinedale-Clay Springs-Linden area west of Show Low where the fire began June 18 as the Rodeo fire before teaming with the Chediski fire.

A slurry bomber drops fire retardant ahead of the Missionary Ridge fire as it moves toward North Durango, Colorado.
A slurry bomber drops fire retardant ahead of the Missionary Ridge fire as it moves toward North Durango, Colorado.  

"We didn't go up in our containment any," said Paxon. "But the feeling is that with these thunderstorm developments ... that we need one more day to go up on that containment."

Officials said 423 homes have been lost -- including six structures identified Wednesday night in the Obergaard-Heber area where the Chediski fire began.

Some 30,000 people have been evacuated from the area, stretching from Obergaard-Heber in the west to Pinetop and Hon Dah in the east.

Both fires started on the Ft. Apache reservation and burned along the northern edge of Apache territory. Bureau of Indian Affairs spokesman Walter Lamar said his agency is working in concert with the FBI and U.S. Forest Service to determine who is responsible for the blazes.

The breadth of the fires prompted the Senate Thursday night to approve $2 billion to fight wildfires next year, but lawmakers from the West said more money is needed to fight fires now. (Full story)


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