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Mammoth forest fire threatens two Arizona towns

Joshua Lott / Reuters

Wayne Lutz takes a break from raking dead grass as he tries to protect his house from the Wallow Wildfire in Eagar, Arizona on June 7.

Joshua Lott / Reuters

The Wallow Wildfire is seen in the distance along U.S. Route 180 as smoke fills the sky in Luna, New Mexico on June 6.

msnbc.com news services report from SPRINGERVILLE, Ariz.:

Officials are hoping their efforts overnight will keep a mammoth forest fire from cresting a ridge and racing into two eastern Arizona towns, giving firefighters the upper hand on the 11th day of what has proved to be an overwhelming battle.

About half of the 4,000 residents who call Eagar home were forced to leave Tuesday afternoon as flames from the Wallow fire licked the ridges surrounding the area. Residents in the rest of Eagar and in neighboring Springerville grew worried as they awaited word of whether they will have to flee, too.

"Everybody that's here is suffering from anxiety from this," Apache County Chief Sheriff's Deputy Brannon Eagar told residents who gathered for a public meeting Tuesday night. Continue reading.