ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Firefighters battling a growing wildfire that has consumed thousands of acres of pinon and juniper forest along with traditional grazing lands used by Navajo families are expecting to work against extreme heat and gusty winds.
Fire officials said Wednesday morning that the Assayii (UH'-say-eye) Lake Fire is now more than 20 square miles.
The blaze, which started June 13, is making its way across summer and winter grazing areas in the Chuska Mountains, just east of the Arizona-New Mexico border.
Authorities say roughly four structures have been destroyed and 50 homes near the communities of Naschitti (NAZ'-chit-ee) and Sheep Spring remain threatened.
Some homes in Naschitti were evacuated, and authorities were urging desperate Navajo families to refrain from heading into the mountains to search for their sheep and other livestock.