© EPARaging: The Arizona wildfires have now crossed into New Mexico
he devastating wildfire sweeping through Arizona has become the worst ever in the state's history.

The Wallow Fire has burned more than 600 square miles, 408,887 acres, and is now six per cent contained.

At least 10,000 people have been displaced and more than 30 homes have been destroyed so far. Authorities said full containment is nowhere in sight, and power lines that supply much of West Texas and Southern New Mexico with electricity are also in jeopardy.

© APPerilously close: The Wallow Fire burns near homes in Eagar.
Yesterday an absence of strong winds allowed firefighters to set preventive burns and cut fire breaks. The winds, however, are expected to pick up and pose more challenges to fire fighting crews.

Last night the massive fire did cross the border into western New Mexico.

More than 5,000 residences are threatened by the massive fire, officials said.

Arizona cut $250,000 from the 2011 fire budget under the assumption that it would be a 'quiet' year for fires. This is now the third wild fire in Arizona this year.

Next year the budget calls for $300,000 in cuts from the department.

Full evacuations were still in place for Eagar, Springerville, Sunrise, Greer, Blue River, Alpine, Nutrioso and many subdivisions. Officials also say 24 outbuildings in Greer were destroyed along with one vehicle.

On Thursday, more than 3,000 firefighters got a break from nature when high winds driving the flames lost strength.

The fire, chewing through pine, fir and spruce in the White Mountains of Eastern Arizona, continued to burn on the edge of small towns scattered across the sparsely populated area.
© APToo close for comfort: A firefighter in Nutrioso, Arizona, as the containment efforts looked seemingly impossible
A thick haze hung over the region and the blaze spread mostly uncontrolled, but fire officials did report a small containment figure. That was an improvement from a day earlier, when containment was zero percent.

The fierce winds that earlier in the week knocked small trees sideways abated, aiding fire crews who planned to use a DC-10 air tanker from California to dump fire retardant on the blaze's troublesome northwestern corner.
Onward path: A map shows the progress of the fire. Greer has been hardest hit
The DC-10 under contract to the state of California arrived Thursday morning and made several practice passes over parts of the fire before it was expected to begin laying 100-yard-wide, mile-and-a-half-long lines of water or retardant.

CalFire spokesman Daniel Berlant said the "supertanker" based in Victorville costs about $57,000 per day to operate for a minimum of five days. The federal government requested the plane and will reimburse the state.
© EPADriving into hell: Smoke hangs over the landscape near Springerville, one of five towns evacuated this week in Arizona
'Greer is not out of danger,' said Jim Whittington, a spokesman for the firefighting efforts. 'There's a lot of fire out there.'

Mr Whittington said unfortunately, losing homes to wildfires has become too common.

'If you've been with those folks when they go back in, it doesn't matter if they're rich or poor, if they live in a mansion or if they live in a very small house, the pain on people's faces is exactly the same," he said. 'Our hearts go out to those folks.'

Only the Rodeo-Chediski Fire was larger than this blaze. That fire in 2002 burned more than 468,000 acres. The Wallow Fire is expected to surpass that size.

Crews remained in the Greer area, where the fire was active, and built containment lines across the border in western New Mexico. The flames had yet to reach that state, but residents of the town of Luna were preparing to evacuate.
© Getty ImagesA stunning sight: Peyton Groff and Trayson Groff view the Wallow Fire from a distance in Springerville, Arizona, on Friday
New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez was scheduled to visit the area yesterday to discuss fire preparations

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer flew over burned areas in her state and met with evacuated residents in Lakewide.

'They're very resilient people up there,' she said Thursday.

The fire has rekindling the blame game surrounding ponderosa pine forests that have become dangerously overgrown after a century of fire suppression.

Many wildfires are caused by humans and investigators say this one may have been started by two unattended campfires distinguishing them from hurricanes, tornadoes and earthquakes.

Some critics put the responsibility on environmentalists for lawsuits that have cut back on logging.
© Getty ImagesA wall of smoke: A road out of Springerville in Arizona opens up to a scary sight on Friday
Others blame overzealous firefighters for altering the natural cycle of lightning-sparked fires that once cleared the forest floor.

Either way, forests across the West that once had 50 trees per acre now have hundreds, sometimes thousands, and much of the landscape is choked with tinder-dry brush.

The density of the growth has fueled immense conflagrations in recent years, like now burning in the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest.

'I think what is happening proves the debate,' said state Sen. Sylvia Allen, a Republican from rural Snowflake.

In the past, a 30-square-mile fire was considered huge.
© Getty ImagesUnstoppable: Smoke from the Wallow Fire billows across the landscape this morning as the wildfire marches north towards two key powerlines
'And it used to be the loggers got right on it. Never in the past have you had these huge fires.'

It's not uncommon for fires to exceed 150 square miles.

An extremely dry late winter and spring contributed to the fire conditions, drying out the forest and allowing fierce winds to carry the flames into the treetops, where they spread by miles each day.

Many in Arizona blame the legal battles that have erupted over old-growth logging that threatened endangered species such as the Mexican spotted owl. Since those disputes prevented regular logging that would have thinned the number of trees, the forests became overgrown, they say.

Environmentalists insist that theory is just a scare tactic.
© APFiery sunset: Sparks fly above the tree line as the fire approaches homes, whose lights are seen shining in the foreground
© APSmoke all but obliterates the sky along Route 60 near Springerville
© ReutersDramatic sunset: Smoke from the Wallow Fire billows over the White Mountains as the sun goes down
© Getty ImagesClear message: A sign outside the town of Eagar urges all residents to evacuate as the fire approaches
© Getty ImagesFleeing: A truck drives out of Springerville amid towering black clouds of smoke
© APDreadful power: Flames from the wildfire almost obscured the sun as they raced towards Eagar