State funds tapped for wildfire; 7th structure burns

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Gladiator Fire Gladiator Fire
Crews battle Gladiator Fire Crews battle Gladiator Fire

A declaration of emergency was issued for Yavapai County to tap $10,000 in state funds to battle the 16,240-acre Gladiator Fire that claimed its seventh structure.

In the meantime, firefighters were encouraged by higher humidity over the fire Wednesday night but leery of winds that could reach 50 mph on Thursday, according to spokesman Jerry Perry at the Incident Command Center.

The declaration, requested by the Yavapai County Board of Supervisors and issued Wednesday, will release the money from the governor's emergency funds to support emergency response and recovery expenses.

It also authorizes the adjutant general to activate Arizona National Guard troops if needed.

The move comes following Gov. Jan Brewer's aerial tour of the wildfire site late last week.

Separately, Arizona Public Service said repairs are under way to 17 utility poles that have either been damaged or destroyed by the fire.

It wasn't until Tuesday that crews were allowed into the lines to start the digging, APS said. They dug eight holes and set five poles through Wednesday afternoon, and digging was expected to wrap up later in the evening, depending on fire conditions.

Perry said the humidity reached 50 percent over the fire Wednesday night, greatly slowing progress of the fire. Thursday morning brought mild wind conditions as well, but the forecast was for increasing winds in the afternoon. A red flag warning remained in effect for virtually the entire state.

"In spite of the increased humidity, the wind has the ability to overcome that humidity," Perry said, adding there are still opportunities for spot fires to start.

Perry said the favorable conditions might allow the release of some firefighters to battle other wildfires in the West.

He said they are currently doing mop-up operations around the perimeter of the fire, concentrating on any remaining hot spots within 50 yards of the established fire line.

Fire management officials also released details of the structures destroyed in the 24-square-mile wildfire north of Phoenix.

The structures include four homes - one in which the fire started - one garage and a trailer next to the home where the blaze began, as well as one abandoned mining shed.

The fire is 30 percent contained. An evacuation order remains in effect for the community of Crown King and the Battle Flat, Pine Flat and Turkey Creek areas.

Authorities said firefighters were reinforcing containment lines Wednesday around the main roads while dealing with low humidity and high temperatures.

Firefighters are continuing to monitor for spot fires from flying embers outside of the fire lines. Work is also continuing along the Senator Highway to strengthen the contingency line.

Rehabilitation efforts have begun on the fire area to restore and stabilize areas disturbed by firefighting activities.

Another informal community gathering will be held at 6 p.m. Wednesday at the Mayer High School, 17300 East Mule Deer Dr., in Spring Valley.

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