Another Arizona community evacuated due to Gladiator Fire


by Andrew Michalscheck and Jared Dillingham

Bio | Email | Follow: @JaredDillingham

Video report by Jared Dillingham

Posted on May 18, 2012 at 6:55 PM

Updated Friday, May 18 at 9:50 PM

Gladiator Fire
Residences Destroyed:
Crown King, Ariz.
An Evacuation Order remains in effect for the community of Crown King. The town of Pine Flats has also been evacuated.
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:
Communities of Crown King and Pine Flats as well as 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, 1 Type 2 Helicopter, 2 Type 3 Helicopters, Air Attack
882 people working
Injuries :
Estimated cost:
More than $4 million

CROWN KING, Ariz. -- The Gladiator Fire has grown to 12,898 acres, and forced another Arizona community out of their homes.

On Friday, those living in Pine Flats were ordered to evacuate the town as the blaze moved closer.  The Turkey Creek area is also under evacuation orders.

“It puts a hole in your heart. It’s very depressing,” said Pine Flats resident John Stephens.

Officials said as of Friday evening the majority of Pine Flats’ residents had left, although there were a few people who had yet to heed the warning.

Strong winds pushed the Gladiator Fire further north and west.  The gusts were so strong that they grounded the air tankers and helicopters for most of the afternoon.

The fire, which is now 10% contained, has consumed more than 20 square miles of the Prescott National Forest.

At least four buildings have burned.  They include three homes and a trailer.   Fire officials say the official number of structures affected is "unknown," since they have not been able to survey the  burned areas.

Winds are expected to be calmer this weekend, but fire fighters say that, too, poses a problem.   The fire will become more "terrain-driven," and could creep through a valley which would lead the flames to the base of a mountain which contains several communication towers.  The towers belong to Verizon, radio stations, government agencies, and others.  

The Gladiator Fire remains the top priority fire in the country.  The number of fire fighters and support staff working it is now 882.

Residents of the recently evacuated Crown King were slightly more fortunate on Friday, as the strong winds blew the Gladiator Fire away from town.

“Crown King seems to be in pretty good shape at this point. The fire lines have been strengthened there,” fire spokesman Gerry Perry said.

With the Gladiator Fire still burning, residents in the area remain concerned about the place they call home.

“I would have no idea what to do next. Where do you go after you’ve lived in a place for 27 years,” Crown King evacuee Willie Cantrell asked.

Friday night, the cost of fighting the fire passed $4 million.

For more information about the Gladiator Fire visit