- Associated Press - Friday, April 28, 2017

GREEN VALLEY, Ariz. (AP) - The Latest on a southern Arizona wildfire (all times local):

2:30 p.m.

For the third time in four days, high winds have caused officials to ground the air tankers and helicopters used to battle a large wildfire in southern Arizona.

A red flag warning was in effect Friday until 8 p.m. with winds gusts of up to 45 mph forecast for late afternoon.

The wildfire has burned 73.4 square miles (190.1 sq. kilometers) of grass, brush and trees since starting Sunday about 10 miles southeast of Green Valley.

It remains 40 percent contained.

Fire officials say the blaze is about 10 miles from hundreds of homes in rural areas along Interstate 10 and west of Benson. Those homes are under pre-evacuation notices.

Authorities have said an off-duty U.S. Border Patrol agent is being investigated for possibly starting the fire while shooting recreationally.

9 a.m.

Authorities say fighting a still-growing wildfire in southern Arizona has cost an estimated $3 million so far.

A spokesman for the interagency team managing the firefighting effort says the estimate released Friday includes costs through Thursday.

The number of personnel assigned to the fire continues to rise, with approximately 800 as of Friday, along with dozens of fire engines and multiple aircraft.

The fire has burned 73.4 square miles (190.1 sq. kilometers) of grass, brush and trees since starting Sunday about 10 miles southeast of Green Valley.

The fire burned a path across the Santa Rita Mountains and is now most active dozens of miles to the east.

Team spokesman Manny Cordova says the fire is about 10 miles from hundreds of homes in rural areas along Interstate 10 and west of Benson. Those homes are under pre-evacuation notices.

Authorities have said an off-duty U.S. Border Patrol agent is being investigated for possibly starting the fire while shooting recreationally.

___

6:50 a.m.

Fire crews have cleared containment lines and other barriers around 40 percent of the perimeter of a southern Arizona wildfire that has burned 73.4 square miles (190.1 sq. kilometers) of grass, brush and trees in southern Arizona.

Officials say high winds expected Friday could hamper efforts to halt and extinguish the fire burning southeast of Tucson. High winds Thursday forced officials to ground firefighting aircraft.

The fire has already crossed one mountain range and burned across a desert valley since it started Sunday about 10 miles (16.1 kilometers) southeast of Green Valley.

No injury or structure damage has been reported.

Authorities said Thursday that an off-duty U.S. Border Patrol agent is being investigated for possibly starting the fire while shooting recreationally.

Officials say the agent immediately reported the fire.


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