Wildfire rages as Navajo communities evacuate - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL


Wildfire rages as Navajo communities evacuate

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A viewer sent these photos of the Assayii Lake Fire. A viewer sent these photos of the Assayii Lake Fire.

A wildfire that has forced the evacuations of Navajo communities in northwestern New Mexico has grown to more than 20 square miles.

Approximately 840 firefighters were working on the blaze Wednesday and took advantage of lighter winds and aerial support to build a line around the Assayii Lake Fire's edge. The fire is now 5 percent contained.

There are 24 crews, 27 engines, 10 helicopters and four dozers.

Five structures have reportedly been destroyed and approximately 50 homes are being threatened.

Fire spokeswoman Arlene Perea said parts of Naschitti and the nearby community of Sheep Springs have been evacuated and residents in other areas have been put on notice that they might have to leave.

A shelter has been set up at Tohachi High School Gymnasium.

Authorities estimate there are about 400 people who live in the two rural communities.

The human-caused blaze was first reported June 13.

Drivers are encouraged to avoid roads leading to the Bowl Canyon Recreation Area, as well as Route 134 at Sheep Springs to Crystal Boarding School and Route 30 at Mexican Springs.

Copyright 2014 CBS 5 (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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