Wildfire in Prescott National Forest spreads

Residents of Crown King, Ariz. warned their homes may be in peril

SPRING VALLEY, Ariz. | May 17, 2012

"It's as bad as it can get right now"

—Joe Reinarz

A wildfire in Prescott National Forest has consumed 5,420 acres and residents of Crown King, Ariz., were warned their homes may be in peril, officials said.

The Gladiator Fire was sparked Sunday by a structure fire on private property and is being fueled by the area's bone dry Ponderosa pine and chaparral. Warm temperatures and strong winds are hampering efforts to control the fire, which was only 5 percent contained Wednesday, The Payson (Ariz.) Roundup reported.

Fire incident spokeswoman Michelle Fidler said winds could shift and push the wildfire back into the central Arizona community where it started, KPHO-TV, Phoenix, reported.

Residents of Crown King are under a mandatory evacuation order and an evacuation center was established at Mayer High School in Spring Valley.

Joe Reinarz, commander of the team battling the fire, said the blaze had potential to creep back toward the former gold mining town.

"On a scale of one to 10, in this case, under these conditions, it's a 10. It's as bad as it can get right now," Reinarz told the crowd at a community meeting at the high school.

2012 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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