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NASCHITTI, N.M. -- A wildfire that has forced the evacuations of Navajo communities in northwestern New Mexico has grown to more than 17 square miles.

Fire officials say the Assayii Lake Fire is being fueled by fierce winds.

There's zero containment, and the gusts have hampered any effort to attack the flames directly.

Fire spokeswoman Arlene Perea says parts of Naschitti (NAS'-chit-ee) and the nearby community of Sheep Springs have been evacuated and residents in other areas have been put on notice that they might have to leave.

Authorities estimate there are about 400 people who live in the two rural communities.

Perea says officials are most concerned about keeping firefighters and the public out of harm's way given the erratic nature of the fire and the unfavorable weather conditions.

The human-caused blaze was first reported Friday.

Associated Press,

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