Wildfire forcing evacuations near Prescott

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by Felicia Fonseca, Associated Press

azfamily.com

Posted on June 18, 2013 at 8:42 PM

Updated Wednesday, Jun 19 at 6:45 AM

Map: Doce Fire

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Map: Prescott, Ariz.

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PRESCOTT, Ariz. (AP) -- A wind-whipped wildfire in northern Arizona grew to nearly 8 square miles by Tuesday evening and was within 400 yards of some homes west of Prescott, authorities said.

Fire officials said hundreds of homes and hundreds of people had been evacuated by the so-called Doce Fire, but exact numbers weren't immediately available.

The fire was human-caused and under investigation, according to U.S. Forest Service officials who said there were no immediate reports of any injuries or any homes being burned.

The fire began shortly before noon Tuesday near the Doce Pit about 8 miles northwest of Prescott.

Wind gusts of up to 22 mph pushed the fire from 20 acres to about 200 acres within an hour.

Authorities said the wildfire was burning in the footprint of another fire of the same name from the 1990s.

The region was under a red flag warning Tuesday because of high winds and low humidity.

Within hours of the fire starting, Yavapai County officials said about 40 residents from 10 homes in the Granite Basin Recreation Area were evacuated along with 15 hikers and 150 homes in the valley below Granite Mountain were put on standby status for evacuation.

All evacuees were being asked to go to Yavapai College and Red Cross officials said they were ready to set up as many as 660 cots if needed.

U.S. Forest Service officials said one air tanker, five engines and 250 firefighters were battling the fire with more tankers, engines and crews on the way.

The fire was burning in scrub brush on Granite Mountain, sending up huge plumes of smoke that was settling in communities around Prescott and carried 70 miles away to Williams.

"It's a huge concern locally and immediately because it's active and moving," said fire spokeswoman Mary Zabinski. "We're certainly in drought conditions and with this current system moving through the Southwest, it's wind-driven and fuels-driven because they're so dry."

Arizona has been spared the large fires recently seen in New Mexico and Colorado, but it has prepositioned equipment in case one breaks out, Zabinski said.

"If the jump in acreage first is off-putting, that's balanced by the fact that we have resources on site hitting it hard and fast, with the potential for catching it quickly in this first day of its reported existence," she said.

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