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Firefighting planes and helicopters battle wildfire in Arizona that forced evacuations near Phoenix

Nearly 200 firefighters, along with firefighting planes and helicopters, are battling a forest fire northeast of Phoenix that has forced dozens of residents to flee.

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – Firefighting planes and helicopters helped douse flames from the sky as nearly 200 firefighters on the ground Friday battled a wildfire northeast of Phoenix that threatened dozens of homes and forced dozens of residents to evacuate.

Authorities expanded the evacuation area in a residential area on the northeast outskirts of Scottsdale, closing roads and part of a nature reserve as gusty winds fanned the flames in extremely hot, dry weather.

However, there were no immediate reports of injuries or building damage, Arizona Fire Department officials said.

Near Phoenix, where the high temperature reached 43.3 degrees Celsius on Friday, about 60 residents evacuated their homes in the Boulder Heights neighborhood overnight after the man-made fire broke out around 2:30 p.m. on Thursday.

Fire officials said they were investigating the exact cause of the fire about five miles east of Carefree, just outside northern Scottsdale on the edge of the Tonto National Forest.

The fire, known as the Boulder View Fire, has burned about 13 square kilometers without being able to be contained, authorities said.

“The southeast side of the fire remained active throughout the night, producing flames 20 to 40 feet long in places,” Tiffany Davila, a spokeswoman for the Arizona Department of Forestry and Fire Management, said in a statement.

“Last night, additional forces were diverted to that side of the fire to begin protecting the buildings and assist crews in beginning firefighting operations to contain the fire to surrounding streets,” she said.

The Red Cross set up an evacuation center at a high school in Scottsdale, and shelters for horses and other large animals were built in several locations, including the rodeo grounds at nearby Cave Creek.

Scottsdale authorities have closed part of the McDowell Sonoran Preserve as a precaution but said there is no immediate danger. Firefighting planes equipped with red flame retardant and helicopters carrying huge buckets of water have so far helped ground crews keep the flames away from power lines in the area, fire officials said.

The National Weather Service said above-average temperatures will continue well into next week, with many low-elevation desert areas seeing highs of 110°F (43.3°C) or more each afternoon.

Meanwhile, firefighters in central Oregon released some crews from lines south of Bend as conditions there improved and the threat of wildfire to the community around La Pine decreased following the evacuation of hundreds of people earlier this week.

Firefighters said Friday they had cut firebreaks around nearly half of the Darlene 3 fire near La Pine. The fire has now burned an estimated 6.1 square miles (15.5 square kilometers) and is 42 percent contained.

And in central California, about 200 firefighters were also battling a large blaze that has burned an estimated 9.2 square miles (23.3 square kilometers) about 60 miles (97 kilometers) east of Fresno. It was the only one of 18 fires sparked by lightning strikes on the western edge of the Sierra Nevada as a storm passed through this week, officials said.

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