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Raging wildfire in Arizona forces more than 2,000 residents to flee

Firefighters face strong winds and bone-dry conditions as they battle a rapidly growing wildfire in central Arizona that has already driven thousands of residents from their homes and destroyed two dozen structures. 

The blaze, dubbed the Tunnel Fire, covered an area of some 6,000 acres as it sped northeast, 14 miles (23 km) north of Flagstaff, Arizona, fire officials said at a news conference late on Tuesday. 

The fire forced more than 2,000 residents from 760 homes in Coconino County, said Patrice Horstman, the chairwoman of the county's Board of Supervisors. 

The fire has destroyed 24 structures and threatened to destroy hundreds more, officials said. 

Some 200 firefighters who were fighting the blaze will face a day of wind gusts of 30 miles an hour and the percent of humidity in the teens on Wednesday and Thursday, the National Weather Service said. 

Like other southwestern states hit by climate change, Arizona is suffering an early start to its fire season.

Dry grass and brush, along with scattered pine, are fueling the fire, officials said. 

(Source: Reuters) 

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