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Fires force 3,000 more to flee in Ariz.

Hank Tunstall (center) was consoled outside the ruins of his father’s home near Sierra Vista, Ariz. Hank Tunstall (center) was consoled outside the ruins of his father’s home near Sierra Vista, Ariz. (Arizona Daily Star, Dean Knuth/ AP)
Associated Press / June 21, 2011

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PHOENIX — Authorities in southern Arizona were canvassing neighborhoods yesterday to tally the damage from a wildfire that was pushed by fierce winds into a heavily populated area, burning homes and businesses.

Officials say the fire came off a mountain Sunday afternoon into the outskirts of Sierra Vista and forced about 3,000 residents of 1,700 homes to flee. The evacuations brought the total number to about 10,000 people from 4,300 homes forced out by the Monument fire.

The blaze began June 12 and had destroyed 44 homes before Sunday.

Among the confirmed losses Sunday was a popular Mexican restaurant. Officials expected to get a confirmed count of the losses soon, said Carol Capas, a spokeswoman for the Cochise County sheriff’s office.

“I can’t speculate right now,’’ Capas said yesterday.

Much lighter winds yesterday were allowing aircraft to again attack several fires in Arizona and New Mexico. Air crews had been grounded for most of Sunday. Firefighting efforts have been dogged for days by hot, windy weather.

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