Arizona Wild Fire
The Slide Fire burns near 89 A south of Flagstaff, Arizona on May 21, 2014.  Tom Tingle—Arizona Republic/AP

Thousands May Have to Flee as Arizona Wildfire Explodes in Size

May 22, 2014

Authorities in Arizona have warned that thousands of people may have to evacuate their homes on Thursday after a wildfire rapidly expanded near Flagstaff.

Nearly 4,500 acres between Flagstaff and Sedona are now in flames after a wildfire grew roughly 10 times in size over a 24-hour period, reports. Approximately 500 firefighters are battling the blaze, but erratic winds have grounded fire-fighting aircraft, hampering response efforts.

"Everything's kind of going against us,” Bob Orrill, a liaison officer for a response team told residents, according to

The blaze has raised concerns of a devastating wildfire season amid a drought that has left Arizona's wooded areas particularly vulnerable. It also comes less than a year after a fire in nearby Prescott killed 19 Hotshot firefighters.

All products and services featured are based solely on editorial selection. TIME may receive compensation for some links to products and services on this website.