Arizona wildfires prompt evacuation orders

Jim Pinter packs his car as he evacuates his home at the Wallow Fire, June 2, 2011 in Alpine, Ariz. AP

TUCSON, Ariz. - Authorities have ordered issued a mandatory evacuation order for two communities in southeastern Arizona near the Horseshoe Two wildfire.

The Cochise County Sheriff's office issued the evacuation for the communities of Paradise and East Whitetail Canyon Thursday evening. Officials say winds pushed the fire over a northeast perimeter and across Rock Creek Canyon.

The Chiricahua National Monument was closed Thursday as a precaution.

The wildfire has burned about 135 square miles and containment has dropped down to 50 percent. About 800 firefighters are battling the 86,000-acre wildfire.

The U.S. Forest Service says crews are working to contain the northeast perimeter of the fire and protect structures in the evacuated communities.

Meanwhile, another wildfire was gaining steam and threatening evacuations in Arizona's far eastern community of Alpine, in the Apache National Forest.

Residents of Alpine were being asked to prepare to evacuate because of a wildfire that's burning southwest of the forested community.

Residents and guests in cabins and ranches surrounding Alpine already have left, but fire officials did not know how many.

The Wallow fire has burned 40,500 acres across dried out forest land in eastern Arizona and is being fanned by strong winds. It's at zero containment.

Fire officials say Alpine residents could be asked to leave within 12 to 24 hours. They're urging residents to prepare to shelter their animals, and gather important documents and personal property.

Alpine is home to about 250 people, though not all live there year-round.

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