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Assayii Lake Fire forces a dozen evacuations on Navajo Nation

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Dry, windy weather with gusts up to 45 mph on Tuesday continued to frustrate efforts by about 500 firefighters to battle a fire that has charred more than 12,000 acres in the Navajo Nation’s Chuska Mountains north of Gallup, officials said.

About a dozen residents were evacuated from the vicinity of Naschitti as the Assayii Lake Fire moved into the low-lying grass and shrub country east of the Chuska Mountains, said Charlie Armiger, a spokesman for the Southwest Area Incident Management Team 3.

Gusty winds grounded the team’s six helicopters by 10:30 a.m. and hampered the ability of firefighters to build fire lines in the rugged Chuska Moutains, where the wind-driven fire continued to move north, Armiger said. The fire was zero-percent contained by noon Tuesday.

Firefighters are attempting to set up fire lines on the northern and southern flanks of the fire, which is moving primarily to the northeast, he said.

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