Firefighters achieving partial containment on Gladiator and Sunflower fires
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — Two major wildfires in Arizona continue to grow Friday under extreme red flag fire conditions.
The Gladiator Fire has burned across a footprint of about 13,000 acres near Crown King, where numerous evacuation orders are in effect. The fire, which started May 13 when a structure fire on private property escaped, is about 10 percent contained.
On Friday (May 18) the fire pushed farther north, crossing trails and prompting the evacuation of the Pine Flats and Turkey Creek areas. At times, flames towered as high as 120 feet in tall timber and winds caused spot fires up to a half mile from the main fire front.
Winds are expected to ease Saturday to about 10 mph with slightly higher relative humidity, so crews are hoping to complete a contingency line from the junction of County Road 52 and Forest Road 89 to the burned over area tonight.
Eight helicopters and eight air tankers dropped water on the fire when conditions allowed.
Prescott National Forest lands south of County Road 177 remain closed, as do all roads leading into the community of Crown King are closed. A Yavapai County fire ban is in effect across all fire ban zones. Prescott National Forest campfire and smoking restrictions are also in effect. More info is online at http://wildlandfire.az.gov.
The Sunflower Fire, about 30 miles north of Mesa, Arizona, has scorched areas within a 16,000-acre footprint, but crews have reached 33 percent containment as of Saturday morning.
The fire is burning in grass, chaparral, pinyon pine, as well as dense Arizona cypress trees in the southwest corner. Almost 600 firefighters are still on-scene, although four crews were released to other duties.
The cause of the Sunflower Fire is still under investigation.