New Mexico Wildfire Rages

Jun 17, 2014

  A fire that has forced residents of two Native American communities on the Arizona-New Mexico border from their homes and is threatening the heart of the Navajo Nation's sheep industry is growing larger.

Fire officials say the Assayii (ah-SAH'-he) Lake Fire has ballooned to more than 19 square miles. The flames already have destroyed four structures. About 50 homes near the rural communities of Naschitti (NAS'-chit-ee) and Sheep Springs are threatened.

Crews were bracing Tuesday for wind gusts up to 50 mph, along with more high temperatures and low humidity levels.

In California, diminishing winds have helped firefighters surround 75 percent of a blaze burning in the southern Sierra Nevada. Residents were told late Monday they could return to some 1,000 mountain homes.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

Diminishing winds have helped California firefighters surround 75 percent of a wildfire in the southern Sierra Nevada.

Fire spokeswoman Cheryl Chipman said Tuesday there was no overnight growth of the blaze near Lake Isabella, northeast of Bakersfield.

Late Monday residents were told they could return to some 1,000 mountain homes.

Three houses have been destroyed by fire, which has charred more than 4 square miles of trees and brush in and adjacent to Sequoia National Forest.

Chipman says calmer winds have allowed firefighters to make significant progress.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.