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“While Arizonans continue to face the enormous challenges related to these wildfires, it’s unfortunate that some are inserting their political agenda into this tragedy,” their statement said.
Rep. Raul Grijalva, a Democrat who represents southwestern Arizona, disagreed with that depiction.
“They served this, they pandered it, and now (they) say that anybody who criticizes that inappropriate, unsubstantiated claim somehow has a political agenda. This is a tragedy of huge proportions for Arizona. Those of us who criticize it are only reacting to what they started.”
On the fire lines in Sierra Vista, neighborhoods that had been shrouded in a massive plume of black smoke a day earlier were free of it Monday, and the towering mountain that fed the flames was smoldering.
Those forced from their homes waited to be escorted back in.
James Hernandez, a retired graphic artist who lives in Hereford, rushed back from vacation in California on Saturday when he heard that the fire had worsened and had jumped four-lane state Route 92.
“The flames went over that,” Mr. Hernandez said, noting that wildfires are a part of summer life in southern Arizona and normally aren’t cause for concern. “They have never done that before.”
As for the Wallow blaze, authorities kept about 200 residents of Luna, N.M., under an evacuation order for a third day Monday. One of the last areas still evacuated near that fire in Arizona reopened Monday as residents of the resort town of Greer began to return home.
Authorities reported a new wildfire in north-central Arizona that officials said could threaten power lines running to Phoenix as well as some scattered ranches. The blaze, about 40 miles northeast of Payson, had burned about 305 acres by Monday.
There were several other significant wildfires burning across the southwestern U.S.:
• Officials in southeast Texas ordered the evacuation of about 1,800 homes and businesses as a fire believed to have been sparked by a barbecue pit burned early 8 square miles northwest of Houston. Two people were injured and nearly 30 homes were destroyed. It was one of many blazes firefighters were battling across the drought-plagued state, including 20 others that the Texas Forest Service said involved more than 120 square miles and consumed at least 35 homes combined.
• Firefighters in central California were battling a blaze that has burned more than 8 square miles of grassland. A 19th-century cattle branding camp and another outbuilding were destroyed. The blaze was 75 percent contained early Monday, and full containment was expected by Tuesday.
• Nine miles north of Santa Fe, N.M., smoke rose from the mountains for a third afternoon as the Pacheco Canyon fire marched toward the rugged Pecos Wilderness. The fire spread to 3,800 acres, or about 6 square miles, by Monday. No homes were in the path of the flames, but a power line was threatened.
Bob Christie reported from Phoenix.
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