700 firefighters continue to battle Asayii Fire

GALLUP, N.M. (KRQE) – Nearly 700 firefighters continue to battle a wildfire on the Navajo Nation.

It has now burned more than 13,000 acres and crews expect another day of windy weather.

The Asayii Lake Fire is still at 0 percent containment and officials say four structures have been destroyed.

Fifty homes near Naschitti and Sheep Spring are threatened, and some homes in Naschitti have been evacuated.

Public meetings are being held at the Crystal, Red Lake and Naschitti chapter houses Wednesday.

On Tuesday, strong winds whipped up smoke and flames, hindering a direct attack on the fire.

Officials say it ended up working to their advantage because it pushed the fire back into the perimeter instead of letting it advance south.

Firefighters will work on creating direct lines around the fire Wednesday, but they’ll be up against extreme heat and gusty winds.

“We’re still going to have some moderate to high winds, but not as gusty as it has been. Hopefully – we’re keeping our fingers crossed – we’ll be able to keep our air support in the air today,” said Charlie Armiger.

For the past several days, high winds have grounded firefighting air support early in the day.

Fire officials hope they’ll be able to use air support on the north and south flanks of the fire where it’s still burning in heavy timber.

The fire was reportedly started Friday by someone burning weeds.

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