- Associated Press - Friday, April 28, 2017

GREEN VALLEY, Ariz. (AP) - Additional ground crews were deployed Friday to try to halt the spread of a southern Arizona wildfire but officials were unable to use air tankers and helicopters to help douse the blaze for a third time in four days because of high winds, officials said.

The fire has so far burned 73.4 square miles (190 square kilometers) of grass, brush and trees since it started Sunday about 10 miles (16 kilometers) southeast of the small city of Green Valley. About 800 people are fighting the fire.

The fire remained 40 percent contained and flames were about 10 miles (16 kilometers) from hundreds of homes in rural areas along Interstate 10 and west of the community of Benson, according to authorities who said those homes were under pre-evacuation notices.

Officials said the cost of fighting the fire had reached $3 million and that an investigation into the fire’s cause was still underway.

The U.S. Border Patrol said Thursday one of its agents was being investigating for possibly starting the fire while off duty and shooting a gun recreationally.

The U.S. Forest Service was leading the investigation into how the fire started.

The Border Patrol said the off-duty agent immediately reported the fire. The agency did not identify the agent.

Coronado National Forest spokeswoman Heidi Schewel and Arizona Department of Forestry and Fire Management spokesman Tiffany Davila said they could not provide information about the investigation because it was ongoing.

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