Packed community meeting on Doce Fire

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By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman
By Sarah Blais By Sarah Blais
By Sarah Blais By Sarah Blais
By Sarah Blais By Sarah Blais

PRESCOTT, Ariz. -- At least 200 people packed Ruth Prescott Theater Thursday night for a community meeting on the Doce Fire burning near Prescott.

When asked who of the group had been evacuated, the majority raised their hands.  Leaders from the Forest Service, Prescott Fire Department and Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office took turns updating residents and answering questions.

Cheryl Hollenbeck was among the evacuees who stood up to voice a concern about the horses she had to leave behind Tuesday.

“They wouldn’t get in the trailer,” she explained.  She hoped to make arrangements to try and get them to safety on Friday.

“I think they’ll be fine; I think the houses are going to be fine. I feel pretty good about it now,” Hollenbeck told 3TV.  “It was pretty scary for awhile.”

Hollenbeck estimates the flames are about a quarter mile from her property.  The Yavapai Sheriff’s Office said 465 people remained evacuated. As many as 20 people refused to leave their property.

Gil Marriott, who lives a couple miles from the fire, told 3TV a few of his neighbors stayed behind.

We asked him what he's most concerned about right now.

"The safety of our neighbors, but also the homes, the barns, the homes," Marriott answered. "The houses have a lot of personal items, photographs, things you can't replace."

During the meeting, Hollenbeck asked fire officials for a best-case scenario of when residents could return to their homes.

Firefighters say they don’t want to give anyone false hope, so they’re hesitant to answer.  They said they should have a better idea this weekend when winds are expected to die down.

Beyond fighting the fire still burning, local leaders say they’re looking ahead to the monsoon and what rain could mean for the thousands of acres of burned land.