Pivotal day expected for Gladiator Fire near Crown King


by Mike Gertzman

Video report by Tess Rafols

Posted on May 18, 2012 at 10:06 AM

Updated Friday, May 18 at 12:31 PM

Gladiator Fire
Residences Destroyed:
Crown King, Ariz.
An Evacuation Order remains in effect for the community of Crown King. The Community of Pine Flat has been given a 72 hour notice of a pending evacuation advisory.
Sunday May 13th, 2012 approx. 11:00 AM
Human caused; originated from a structure fire on private property
Ponderosa pine and chaparral
Property at risk:
Community of Crown King and the Horsethief Basin. Additional threats are posed to Forest Service campgrounds, lookout towers, communications sites, power lines and historic sites within the Forest
Steep, rugged, difficult access
8 Type-1 Crews, 8 Type-2 Crews, 18 Engines, 2 Dozers, 4 Type-1 Helicopters, 2 Type-3 Helicopter, 6 Type-1 Airtankers, Air Attack
640 personnel from 14 states (AK, AZ, CA, FL, ID, IN, MS, MT, NJ, NM, NY, OR, TX, UT)
Estimated cost:
Map: Crown King, Ariz.

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CROWN KING, Ariz.-- Strong winds continue to fuel a wildfire burning north of Phoenix that has now grown to nearly 16 square miles.

Fire spokesman Mike King said Friday the 10,000-acre blaze has spread north and east.

Wind gusts of 40 mph and low humidity have made the fire difficult for crews to contain.

The Gladiator Fire is the top priority in the nation for wild land firefighters. More re-enforcements have been brought in for the fire fight. As of Friday morning, there were 640 firefighters from 14 states battling the fire.

One official told 3TV that managers are calling in even more Hotshot crews in preparation for a long day on Friday and a long weekend.

The fire fight on Friday is expected to be the toughest day yet for crews working to contain the Gladiator fire.

A Red Flag warning due to strong winds from the southwest and low relative humidity has been issued for Friday from 8 a.m. through 10 p.m. The fire is expected to grow primarily northward again today.

"There's three things that drive the fire: The weather, topography and the fuel and those three things align and that chemistry's right anything can happen," said Gladiator Fire information official Chris Jessop.

The fire is is moving closer to the area known as Pine Flats. Flames are now just a few miles away from the community so residents there have been given a 24 hour evacuation notice.

Sam Whitted with the Southwest Incident Management Team said, "We want to give folks as much time as possible to gather their things," like important papers and medications and make arrangements for pets and large animals.

"Also, it gives them a little time to create some defensible space around their homes," explained Whitted

The Arizona Department of Public Safety has a helicopter standing by in case it is needed to rush people out of the fire zone.

On the south and east side of the fire crews are holding the Cleator – Crown King Road (County Road 59) and working to suppress fire below the road to the east by utilizing helicopter bucket drops. Burnout operations may be conducted if necessary.

The fire prompted an evacuation order Sunday for Crown King, a historic mining town about 85 miles north of Phoenix. Most of its 350 residents have evacuated.

The fire, which is 5 percent contained, has destroyed three homes and a trailer.

The blaze started at a home, but investigators haven't determined the cause.


Gladiator Wildfire Information

An Evacuation Order remains in effect for the community of Crown King. Battle Flat is also under evacuation. The Communities of Pine Flats and Turkey Creek have been given a pre-evacuation advisory.

The Red Cross Shelter/Evacuation Center at the Bradshaw Mountain High School has been closed. Red Cross will open a Reception and Care Center at Mayer Elementary School, 12606 E. Main St., Mayer, AZ on Friday May 18 at 10 a.m. and will remain open until 5 p.m. each day until further notice. Red Cross personnel can be reached at 928-237-6751.

A Closure Order is in effect for all Prescott National Forest land south of County Road 177.
-All roads leading into the community of Crown King are closed.
-Cleator – Crown King Road (County Road 59) is closed at Cleator.
-Senator Highway to Crown King (County Road 52) is closed at Goodwin.
-Forest Road 192 is closed.
-Forest Road 711 is closed at the southern boundary of the Forest.