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Sunday
Jun122011

Wallow Fire: Residents Cautioned About Hazardous Air Quality

Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images(PINETOP, Ariz.) -- Health officials in New Mexico and Arizona are warning residents that air quality conditions could worsen as enormous wildfires rage on in the two states.

The Wallow Fire has been burning in Arizona for two weeks and has burned nearly 700 square miles, destroyed dozens of homes and displaced thousands of people.

On Sunday authorities gave the all-clear to about 8,000 residents of Eagar and Springerville Arizona, who were previously evacuated, to return home. Other mountain communities like Alpine, Nutrioso and Greer are looking at around five more days before they can go home.

Even with the green light to return to homes, officials caution that there still may be some air quality issues in and around those neighborhoods where people are returning to.

New Mexico residents as far away as Santa Fe and Albuquerque are being cautioned, and more at-risk groups such as children, seniors, pregnant women and those with already-existing respiratory diseases are advised to take extra precautions.

With approximately 3,000 firefighters battling the blaze, containment has been fluctuating between five percent and six percent.

As the fire continues to spread, concern is growing that the fire may endanger two major power lines that bring electricity to West Texas from Arizona.

Lighter winds on Thursday and Friday allowed firefighters to make more progress, but winds picked up again on Saturday and high winds are expected Sunday.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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