Air quality causing problems for those living near the Gladiator Fire

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by Marie Saavedra

azfamily.com

Posted on May 21, 2012 at 7:31 PM

Updated Saturday, Oct 26 at 9:57 AM

MAYER, Ariz. -- As of Monday morning, the number of acres burned in the Gladiator Fire near Crown King was 14,184 with 15 percent of the fire contained.

Crews are very carefully watching its movement to the north and west, and so are the people living nearby.

As smoke continues to fill the skies over Mayer, one of the few places you'll find a crowd is the Post Office.

"That's the only thing I'm walking for is to get the mail," said Nancy Conlin. "That's it." 

She and her stepdaughter Chloe are only running the necessary errands. The air quality makes daily chores outdoors more work.

"Yesterday was bad, two days ago it was nice, real nice out. No smoke, nothing. You could breathe," Conlin said. "Today, it's mediocre."

The Forest Service and Health Department are keeping an eye on air quality.

"There are those concerns and it seems to change with whatever location you're in from day to day, given what the winds are doing," said Gerry Perry, a Forest Information Officer.

He says teams are also concerned about the fire's movement to the north and west, powered by dry heat and wind.

"That all causes us to have a great deal of concern about being able to make sure the fire doesn't spread," he said.

Especially toward the communication towers. The flames are already very close, and that's where crews focused most of their time on the ground.

"Our firefighters are doing a great deal of work preparing and using burn out operations as necessary to protect the towers on the west side," Perry said.

Those living nearby are cheering them on, away from the smoke.

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