Two wildfires in Arizona have spread quickly since being discovered earlier this month.
The Mescal Fire, discovered June 1, was 65,825 acres in size as of Monday evening. The Telegraph Fire, discovered Friday, is not far behind at 61,211 acres. Both are located east of Phoenix and north of Tucson and are less than 25% contained, according to Inciweb.
According to the Arizona Department of Transportation, the following roads are closed due to the fires:
• U.S. Highway 70 closed to commercial vehicles between mileposts 272 and 302.
• U.S. Highway 60 from Superior to Top-of-the-World.
• State Route 77 from Globe to Winkelman.
• State Route 177 from Superior to Winkelman.
Much of the western U.S. has been plagued with drought for at least the past 12 months, reaching “extreme” or “exceptional” levels in many places. These are the two worst categories issued by the U.S. Drought Monitor.
Wildfires have been an unfortunate fact of life for many communities, and every so often the threat increases for new and existing fires to spread out of control as winds become gusty. This will be the case through at least the middle of this week in areas north of the Arizona fires.
Fire weather conditions will be especially favorable in western Colorado, much of Utah, southern Nevada, portions of eastern California and far western Arizona. Along with the extremely dry ground and gusts of 35 to 45 mph, the air itself will be very dry. Relative humidity during peak heating hours will be less than 15% in some areas.
The National Weather Service has issued red flag warnings across the region, including Grand Junction, Colorado; Salt Lake City; Las Vegas; Bishop and Death Valley, California; as well as Kingman and Lake Havasu City, Arizona. The warnings last through Wednesday.
Besides potential low visibility and road closures in these areas due to smoke, the air will be unhealthy. Drivers should spend as little time as possible outside their trucks.
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