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The Prescott Daily Courier | Prescott, Arizona

home : latest news : local September 15, 2014

5/22/2012 12:01:00 AM
Gladiator claims 2 more structures, now threatening Towers Mountain
United States Forest Service/Courtesy photo
The U.S. Forest Service provided this aerial view of the Gladiator Fire Monday.
United States Forest Service/Courtesy photo
The U.S. Forest Service provided this aerial view of the Gladiator Fire Monday.
Meeting for fire evacuees tonight
An informal community meeting for Gladiator fire evacuees will take place at 6 p.m. Tuesday, May 22 at the Mayer High School, 17300 E. Mule Deer Dr. in Spring Valley.
Joanna Dodder Nellans
The Daily Courier

SPRING VALLEY - Two more structures were discovered burned Monday on the Gladiator Fire, the first to be reported in several days as firefighters geared up for extreme fire conditions today. The blaze also grew to within 100 yards of high-value communications facilities on Towers Mountain.

After a few days of relatively calm winds, the National Weather Service has issued a red-flag warning for noon to 8 p.m. today because forecasters expect strong winds, low humidity and high temperatures. Strong winds could continue all week, fire information officer Brad Pitassi told about 70 people who attended an informal community meeting Monday evening in Spring Valley.

Meanwhile, several other wildfires ignited across Arizona Monday, so firefighting resources are becoming scarcer. The Gladiator might lose some of its heavy air tankers and other aerial resources even though it's still the top priority fire in the country, Pitassi said.

The two structures burned on the southwest side of the Gladiator Fire where flames already had passed through, Pitassi said. One was likely a summer cabin and the other was probably an outbuilding, information officer Art Morrison said. Wind could have carried chunks of smoldering trees onto the structures, for example. Four homes had previously burned.

Shannon Norman and her children attended Monday's community meeting to try to find out if their summer home was one of the newly burned structures. She helped her late father build the home in the 1970s.

"So it's really sentimental to me," she said of the cabin. Fire information officers said her home probably didn't burn.

Jim Moll of Prescott attended the meeting to try to find out if the Lutherans would have to cancel a huge grand opening of their new church camp at Kipa Spike about nine miles north of the blaze. He didn't get an answer yet. He said about 700 people have been invited to the grand opening on Memorial Day weekend. The main camp access is via Senator Highway south out of Prescott.

By Monday evening the fire had burned across 14,963 acres and was 19 percent contained. It ignited at a home along Gladiator Mine Road just north of Crown King on May 13, forcing the evacuation of 315 full-time and summer homes. The historic Crown King mining community is located about 20 miles south of Prescott.

The western flank of the fire continues to cause the most problems, as firefighters generally held the northern front of the fire about two miles south of evacuated cabins at Pine Flat. More ground crews moved to the western flank Monday to widen a blackened line on Towers Mountain. If the blaze jumps west over Senator Highway again and firefighters can't catch it like they did Sunday, it would torch into some heavy fuels, Pitassi said.

The fire moved west to within 100 yards of Towers Mountain Monday, where millions of dollars worth of communications facilities are located. Communications signals in the Phoenix area need those facilities to get their signals to northern Arizona, said Matt Meierbachtol, spokesman for Arizona Public Service. Along with major cell phone companies and APS, Gladiator firefighters and numerous government agencies depend on the towers including the Western Area Power Administration, U.S. Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Department of Energy, Meierbachtol said.

"It's a crucial piece," he said.

All the communications facilities on Towers Mountain are running on backup propane tanks with at least a few weeks of capacity since fire officials allowed Flame Propane to deliver more fuel on Thursday, Meierbachtol said.

Electricity for Towers Mountain and the community of Crown King has been cut off since shortly after the fire ignited. The sole line generally follows County Road 52 up the Bradshaws to Crown King and the fire burned over at least 17 power poles, Meierbachtol said.

APS should be able to start repairing the lines and poles today if conditions don't deteriorate on the less volatile eastern flank of the blaze, he said. But because of the steep, remote and rock terrain, it could take 10 to 12 days to restore electricity, he said.

Related Stories:
• Firefighters make progress on Gladiator despite conditions
• Meeting for Gladiator fire evacuees tonight, May 22
• Editorial: Defend your home from wildfires
• Crown King mail being diverted to Mayer post office

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Reader Comments

Posted: Thursday, May 24, 2012
Article comment by: the wino

BW is living in dayz gone bye!
This GLADIATOR FIRE is a double wammee.
Not only will the liberial left refuse "managing the forest". Thinning the old growth tree's and burning the SLASH PILES in winter snow days.
BUT-- Now the taxpayers GET THE $BILL$ for this forest fire???
Like the old saying---PAY ME NOW-OR PAY ME LATER!

Posted: Wednesday, May 23, 2012
Article comment by: Couldn't Resist

BW, poor thing, experiencing your typical liberal hysteria. So, BW, what has Obama done lately to stop "lining the pockets" of the supposed war profiteers? Answer: NOTHING. So there goes that babbling liberal talking point. And what has Obama done to bolster the number of fire fighting air tankers in the THREE AND ONE HALF years he's been in office. Answer: NOTHING. Thus another babbling liberal talking point swirls the toilet bowl.

You are a silly fellow indeed. I can't wait to see your hysterical tantrums after the election this November. It will be very amusing to hear you liberals explain to us about how Bush helped Romney "steal" the election.

Posted: Wednesday, May 23, 2012
Article comment by: B W

Hey tired....facts are facts I realize CONservatives find such things tiresome, but there it is. Bush was more concerned with lining the pockets of his business buddys with war profits than he was with the safety of this nation. The TeaPots are more interested in pushing their agenda, than the safety of the nation. I'm tired of CONservatives blaming everyone but themselves!

Posted: Tuesday, May 22, 2012
Article comment by: @ B W

Whether you are from the left or the right, this is not the time or forum to start pointing fingers. Put those comments aside for now and please, just keep positive, good thoughts towards the fire-fighters and all of those directly and in-directly affected by this tragedy.

Posted: Tuesday, May 22, 2012
Article comment by: BW's A Loser

BW maybe you should back these facts up loseball. "Bush chose not to address this" you say... so is Obama addressing it? Yeah.... likely not. You libs dont have a leg to stand on in the forest fire fight... its you guys that try to ban prescribed burns and such every chance you get. Every time courier airs an article about prescribed burns some Lib is whining about how they cant breathe because of the smoke and trees are being killed. Check yourselves before you mouth off about these subjects. As for the PNF and Fire Dept do all the prescribed burns you want, anything to avoid major fire hitting town. The Libs will always try to politize an issue they are wrong on.

Posted: Tuesday, May 22, 2012
Article comment by: Fire Surveyor

Wanna know what's really going on? Check this out:

Posted: Tuesday, May 22, 2012
Article comment by: James Decker

I hope this giant of a fire will end soon i hate to see Prescott's forest bring destroyed.

Posted: Tuesday, May 22, 2012
Article comment by: john kaine

I think that the Gladiator fire needs to have more tankers assigned to help put it out. The fire-fighters need as much help as they can get to put it out. I just hope that Prescott doesn't have to be evacuated.

Posted: Tuesday, May 22, 2012
Article comment by: Ryan Dalton

i think that the gladiator fire is very serious because it has claims over 14,000 acres and it has been the first huge fire I've heard of in my life i think the wind should end and wonder why it hasn't

Posted: Tuesday, May 22, 2012
Article comment by: tired of it all

Ok, B W or is it B M??...you have had your fill of Koolaid. Blaming Bush now for the fire and planes? Wow...

Posted: Tuesday, May 22, 2012
Article comment by: B W

In 2002, after two major accidents, the NTSB grounded the entire heavy air tanker fleet. After review it was determined many these planes could not verify their airworthiness and NTSB advised the Forest Service they could be liable for accidents. The large air tanker fleet was diminished by nearly half over the years since. President Bush choose not to address this and now President Obama has the TeaParty Un-patriots to contend with. If you are frustrated by the lack of heavy air tankers the sole responsibility lies with the CONservatives, noone else. Gee thanks TeaPots ...

Posted: Tuesday, May 22, 2012
Article comment by: Andrea Ramey

@Alfred Brendel: I hope that you can put faith in the fact that our firefighters know exactly what they're doing. They would NEVER endanger our communities. They, just like you, are very aware of the weather conditions, but they, unlike you, know a lot better how to read circumstances and make sure that they do what needs to be done.

Posted: Tuesday, May 22, 2012
Article comment by: Alfred Brendel

The 9 am info is that the tankers are gone. Only helicopters listed on the incident site.

This comes as the winds out of the East are rising, blowing the fire toward Tower Mountain and Senator Highway, which has already been crossed previously and threatens again. Once Senator Highway is crossed, there is nothing to stop the fire from moving westward, gaining strength and going north to Prescott when the wind is from the south again..

Posted: Tuesday, May 22, 2012
Article comment by: K S

Whoa! Do not know how "so cynical" got attached to my prior post. Erase it! Anyway, I learned that you should just be able to go to any Wells Fargo bank and contribute to the Crown King recovery account. Thanks!

Posted: Tuesday, May 22, 2012
Article comment by: K so cynical

I understand from the Crown King FB page that donations can be made for their recovery at Wells Fargo bank. Many contributed to the folks on Whiskey Row, so now is your chance to come through for families in need. Every little bit helps and this area has a knack for helping out. Many in this fire's area are looking at starting completely over.

Posted: Tuesday, May 22, 2012
Article comment by: Brian Boru

From the article: "The Gladiator might lose some of its heavy air tankers and other aerial resources even though it's still the top priority fire in the country, Pitassi said."

Top Priority? If it really is top priority, why are they moving resources elsewhere?

Posted: Tuesday, May 22, 2012
Article comment by: B W

Why hasn't the State applied for a Fire Management Assistance Grant (FMAG?)

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