PUNKIN CENTER, Ariz. (AP) – Fire officials said humidity and rain helped them battle a more than 70,000-acre wildfire in central Arizona that forced the evacuation of more than 350 homes.

The blaze was 60 percent contained Saturday and expected to be fully under control by today, officials said. “The threat has been minimized,” said fire information officer Laura Prevatte.

Meanwhile, crews in southwestern Utah quelled a 17,000-acre fire that had threatened a town and evacuation orders were lifted in a nearby community that had been nearly surrounded by a different blaze.

In central Arizona, people who were asked to evacuate about 350 houses as the result of the 70,220-acre blaze were allowed to return home Friday.

Residents had also been allowed back into about 15 homes evacuated in the rural community of Sunflower, west of the fire. The fire came within an estimated half-mile of the homes but was no longer a threat, officials said.

In Veyo, Utah, bulldozers plowed a line around the flames and firefighters were inching toward containment of the fire, which had been touched off by lightning, U.S. Forest Service fire information officer David Chevalier said.

Elsewhere in Utah, authorities lifted evacuation orders in nearby Gunlock, where about 84 of the 130 residents had left their homes Friday night.

The National Interagency Fire Center said 42 large fires were active, mostly in western states. About 4 million acres have burned this year, compared with 4.8 million at this time last year.


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