Brush fire near small Arizona town forces evacuation of 300 residents

A smoky brush fire near a rural Arizona community forced the evacuation of a trailer park and some 300 residents as it burned at least two homes, officials said.

The wildfire was burning salt cedar trees in the dry Gila River bed Wednesday evening near Kearny, about 85 miles southeast of Phoenix.

Although firefighting officials said after nightfall that there was still zero containment, it appeared the flames from the 300-acre fire were burning away from the town of 2,000 residents and some evacuees could possibly be allowed to go home. About 200 firefighters were on scene, and they encountered temperatures that hit 114 degrees.

The Pinal County Sheriff's spokesmen did not immediately return phone and email requests late Wednesday for updated information.

There were no reports of any injuries.

Arizona State Forestry officials said the blaze started around 11 a.m. Wednesday and its cause wasn't immediately known.

Fanned by wind gusts of up to 15 mph, the brush fire doubled in size almost every hour and threatened at least 25 structures — reportedly burning to within 40 yards of some homes.

"Right now as you can see this fire is pretty unpredictable. We're kind of at the mercy of what the winds are going to do," said Mark Clark, a spokesman for the Pinal County Sheriff's Office.

Authorities said one car and two shed-like structures were destroyed by the fire along with at least two homes.

Of the evacuees, about half are residents of a trailer park that also was evacuated in 2013 when lightning sparked a 500-acre fire in the same river bed.

State Sen. Barbara McGuire said the fire looked "like a war zone" when she drove into the town

"It looked like a volcano eruption. That's the kind of smoke there is," said McGuire, D-Kearny. "I have resided in this community for most of my life — 55 years now — and it is home to me, so I am concerned."

Heavy smoke closed a 4-mile stretch of state Route 177 in both directions.