High winds are propelling a devastating Arizona forest fire that has already grown into the third-largest in the state's history.

Smoke from the 225-square-mile covered a mountain vacation town in a blinding yellow fog yesterday and residents are now preparing to evacuate as the fire edges closer.

Strong winds have also blown smoke from the burning pine forest well into the nearby states of New Mexico and Colorado.

Image
© Eastern Arizona IMT
Burning: The Wallow Fire rages through dry pines in Arizona, while firefighters battle to save homes
Image
© AP Photo - Aizona republic - Jack Kurtz
Terrifying: A farm in Luna, New Mexico, sits below the massive smoke column from the 144,000-acre Wallow Fire on Friday. Two of the biggest fires in Arizona history rage on

Image
© Associated Press
Menacing: The smoke column off the Wallow Fire towers over people going to a community meeting about the blaze in Springerville, Arizona on Friday
Crews have not contained the so-called Wallow Fire near the New Mexico-Arizona state line, which has forced residents to evacuate from several mountain towns.

In the vacation town of Greer, which has fewer than 200 year-round residents, many voluntarily left on Saturday.

Those who remained, mostly business owners, dealt with haze heavily tinged with smoke on yesterday, including the owner of the historic Molly Butler Lodge who was getting ready to leave.

Allan Johnson spent the morning getting antiques, including an 1886 table brought by covered wagon from Utah and a 1928 Oldsmobile the lodge uses for weddings, out of the fire's path. He said he was not taking reservations but was keeping open the restaurant, mainly as a meeting place.

Image
© Associated Press
Evacuating: Stuffed deer and antelope heads sit in the bed of a pickup truck as Robb Tylor gathers his belongings in Greer, Arizona on Saturday
Image
© Associated Press
Packing up: Jim Tress, right, and his daughter Samantha move furniture as they evacuate their home in Greer
Image
© Associated Press
Firefighter Brian Quimby rests in a school field after battling the Wallow Fire in Eagar, Arizona, yesterday. The 225-square-mile blaze has grown into the third-largest in the state's history
Greer is within miles of the fire, which officials expect will grow given a windy forecast over the next few days.

If the blaze comes within two miles of a containment line nearby, the town will be evacuated.

'We're all waiting for the word,' Johnson said. 'It could be 24 hours, could be eight hours. It might not happen at all - that's what we're all rooting and praying for.'

Image
© Associated Press
Smoke: John Keane and his wife Marcia, wildfire vacuees from Nutrioso, walk their dogs outside a church as the town is filled with smoke from the Wallow Fire in Eager, Arizona
Image
© Associated Press
High winds and temperatures have continued to complicate firefighters' battle against the Wallow Fire
Image
© Associated Press
Mike Taylor from the Arizona Department of Transportation wears a mask as he works at a check point in Picnic Hill, Arizona on Saturday
With a lull in the wind last night, crews managed to burn 30 miles of containment lines between active and unburned areas to create a buffer from the most violent wind-driven runs.

On Saturday, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer called the blaze 'horrific' following an aerial tour.

'It was unbelievable - the expansion of the smoke,' he said.

'It was horrific and of the likes of a fire of which I have never experienced from the air. We hope that we get more encouraging news in the morning.'

Image
© Eastern Arizona IMT
The terrifying advance of the fire, which has so far not destroyed many buildings thanks to firefighters
Image
© Eastern Arizona IMT
The light of the huge Wallow Fire reaches far up into the heavens, while smoke can be seen from at least 200 miles away
Image
© Inciweb
Massive: Map of the huge swath of fire destruction at wallow Arizona
In Nutrioso, the blaze came within two miles of homes, and heavy yellowish smoke in Alpine reduced visibility to about a quarter mile.

Smoke drifted into northwestern New Mexico towns such as Fence Lake and Zuni Pueblo, said National Weather Service meteorologist Mark Fetting, and was expected as far north as Gallup.

The haze also could reach as far as Albuquerque later today.

Spokesman Brad Pitassi said 1,300 firefighters were at the blaze, including some 'from Oregon all the way to New York.'

Since the blaze started on May 29, four summer rental cabins have been destroyed, the U.S. Forest Service said. No serious injuries have been reported.

The fire is the state's third-largest, behind a 2002 blaze that blackened more than 732 square miles and one in 2005 that burned about 387 square miles in the Phoenix suburb of Cave Creek.

Image
© Eastern Arizona IMT
Fire on the mountain: Wilderness in Arizona, near the border with New Mexico, is menaced by the Wallow Fire
Image
© Key Dyson
Sunset: The setting sun illuminates smoke from the Wallow Fire, as seen by an Eagar resident
The state also was contending with another major wildfire, its fifth-largest, in far south-eastern Arizona that threatened a church camp and two communities.

Air crews dumped water and retardant near the Methodist church camp on Saturday as the 156-square-mile blaze burned around the evacuated camp in the steep Pine Canyon near the community of Paradise.

Paradise, as well as East Whitetail Canyon, was evacuated in advance and the nearby Chiricahua National Monument was closed as a precaution. Crews set backfires and kept the blaze from about a dozen occupied homes and other vacation residences on Saturday.