Arizona wildfire biggest in state history

The sun sets behind smoke from the Wallow fire Tuesday, June 14, 2011 in Luna, N.M. The focus of the battle against the massive wildfire burning in eastern Arizona was on New Mexico as crews continued to light fires around the town of Luna to stop the flames. (AP Photo/Matt York)

June 15, 2011 1:16:31 PM PDT
The fire burning in eastern Arizona's Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest is now the largest in state history, although nowhere near the most damaging to homes.

The Wallow fire has forced nearly 10,000 people to evacuate in several small mountain communities and two larger towns on the forest edge. It has burned 11 structures.

Fire command team spokesman Alan Barbain spokesman said Wednesday the blaze has consumed 478,452 acres of forest, mainly ponderosa pine. Of those, 4,911 acres are in New Mexico and 473,541 are in Arizona.

That makes it larger than 2002 Rodeo-Chediski (ched-ih-SKY') fire, which began as two blazes before it merged into the worst wildfire in state history.

The Chediski started as a signal fire and joined with the Rodeo, which was intentionally set by a firefighter who needed work. Together they burned 732 square miles, destroyed 491 buildings and cost about $400 million to fight.