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Mon, May 20

Authorities close fire area near Crown King to public

Prescott National Forest officials have closed all access to the Lane 2 fire area south and east of Crown King.

They announced Tuesday that the 9,629-acre wildfire was 100-percent contained Monday. The region is about 20 miles south of Prescott.

The closure means the general public cannot access the Horsethief Basin Recreation Area, which contains Horsethief Lake, Hazlett Hollow and Turney Gulch campgrounds, and the Kentuck picnic area. Most of the Castle Creek Wilderness Area also is off-limits.

Residents and Horsethief Basin summer homeowners still will be able to enter the area. However, the summer homes remain without electricity.

The closure includes Forest Road 52 south of its intersection with FR259.

The main road up to Crown King via Cleator, County Road 59, remains open. So do all of the Crown King businesses and lodges.

Recreationists still can drive on Forest Road 52 from Prescott to Crown King. And four-wheelers still can trek from Lake Pleasant to Crown King because forest roads 711 and 192 remain open.

Those two roads mark the western boundary of the closure area. The northern boundary is FR52 and FR259 (aka County Road 59). The eastern and southern boundaries are the forest boundaries. For a map, see the forest's website at www.fs.fed.us/r3/prescott.

Numerous dispersed camping sites remain open along FR259 just south of Crown King and FR52 west of FR259.

The Forest Service is closing the burned area while it assesses the dangers, puts up warning signs, and rehabilitates the burn area with seeding, mulching and erosion control devices, Bradshaw District Ranger Laura Jo West said.

The dangers could include falling burned trees along roads and flash flooding, she said.

The closure could last through the monsoon, she said. That rainy season typically runs through mid-September.

A lost camper apparently started the Lane 2 fire on June 28.

It forced the evacuation of Crown King, a small former mining community surrounded by the national forest in the pines of the southern Bradshaw Mountains.

The blaze torched five homes, one logging facility and 12 outbuildings. No one was injured.

Contact the reporter at jdodder@prescottaz.com

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