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LIVE FROM THE HEADLINES

Small Arizona Town Prepares For Wildfire

Aired June 24, 2003 - 19:21   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Well, there's slow progress being made tonight against a wildfire in the southern part of Arizona now covering more than 20,000 acres. Winds are still gusting, making it tough for firefighters. One front of the fire is said to be on its way toward the town of Oracle.
And that's Colleen Bagnall from CNN affiliate KGUN is live with the latest on today's efforts.

Colleen, what's the latest?

COLLEEN BAGNALL, KGUN REPORTER: The latest is, there have been some voluntarily evacuations, 10 homes in the small town of Oracle. It's only about 3,400 people. Those people have been asked to leave because of all the thick smoke.

Check this out. It's a wall of smoke and it's been like this for the past five days. This is day eight of the Aspen fire. So far, it's scorched 21,000 acres. More than 900 firefighters are battling the blaze at a cost of about $3 million. The winds are wreaking havoc on this fire. And, so far, the Aspen fire is winning this war. The firefighters can't seem to control it. It's only 15 percent contained at this point.

The town of Oracle has not been evacuated completely. There's a meeting tonight in this town at 7:00 to talk about how they're going to evacuate. Everybody's going down to the middle school. It's a small community. There are some big, expensive homes in this area. And the flames, we are told, are less than four miles away. And for the people in this small town, four miles seems like four inches, because they're looking at this wall of smoke and they're thinking, this is coming toward our home.

But we're told by the U.S. Forest Service that the fire will not come into the town of Oracle until maybe Wednesday or Thursday. And then they'll evacuate it. They may evacuate it sooner. We will just have to keep everyone posted.

COOPER: Unbelievable.

Colleen Bagnall, thanks very much for that report.

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