PUNKIN CENTER, Ariz. (AP) – A wildfire that has charred 60,000 acres in central Arizona jumped a highway Friday where firefighters were hoping to contain it, forcing the evacuation of a handful of homes in the tiny rural community of Sunflower.

The evacuations in Sunflower, which has about 15 homes, were in addition to others requested in more populated areas Thursday because of the same fire.

“No structures have been lost to this point,” said Jim Whittington, a spokesman for the crews fighting the fire. “We’re going to have our hands full.”

Sunflower is about 40 miles northeast of Phoenix.

About 150 homes were evacuated previously after the blaze came within 2 miles of Punkin Center, firefighters said. Firefighters built lines with bulldozers and by hand Thursday to protect the city and the area of the Tonto National Forest.

Arizona firefighters also battled a 10,450-acre fire 15 miles northeast of Wickenburg in the Bradshaw Mountains. That blaze was 5 percent contained, said George Taylor, a spokesman for the team fighting the fire.

In southwestern Utah, residents of the village of Motoqua returned to their homes Friday after the threat from a 3,500-acre wildfire subsided.

The fire destroyed one home on a ranch, but 19 other structures near the town were not damaged, said David Boyd, a fire spokesman for the Bureau of Land Management. No injuries were reported. The residents had left their homes voluntarily as the flames approached, Boyd said.

The National Interagency Fire Center said 32 large fires were active Friday in Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Louisiana, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon and Utah. An estimated 3.9 million acres of land has been burned so far this year, compared with 4.6 million at this time last year.


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