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Critical fire weather expected through the week, firefighters brace for high winds

wildfire risk

The National Weather Service has issued a Fire Weather Watch for Thursday in anticipation of strong winds and low relative humidity for northern Arizona.

Affected areas include Forest Lakes, Fredonia, Grand Canyon, Heber-Overgaard, Jacob Lake, Pinetop-Lakeside, Show Low, Tuba City, Valle, Whiteriver and Williams. This includes portions of the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest, Coconino National Forest, Kaibab National Forest, Prescott National Forest and Tonto National Forest.

Sustained winds of 15-25 mph are expected, along with 40 mph gusts.

NWS has also issued a Red Flag Warning for Wednesday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

The warning covers locations near Buffalo Pass, Dilkon, Ganado, Kykotsmovi and Window Rock. Winds up to 40 mph are expected.

Weather and forest officials say the combination of gusty winds and low humidity can cause fires to rapidly grow in size and intensity before first responders can contain them.