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Western wildfires: Blazes spread in Arizona and Colorado

May 15, 2012|By Michael Muskal
  • An air tanker drops flame retardant on a fire Monday near Crown King, Ariz.
An air tanker drops flame retardant on a fire Monday near Crown King, Ariz. (Matt York / AP Photo )

Wildfires in Arizona and Colorado spread on Tuesday as firefighters faced problems with rugged terrain and, in some areas, wind.

In Colorado, the Hewlett fire had grown to about 300 acres in tough terrain near Poudre Park and the Hewlett Gulch trailhead, about 20 miles northwest of Fort Collins. Firefighters were using air resources, including a single-engine tanker and helicopter, to fight the blaze.

In Arizona, the number of acres destroyed in four fires grew overnight from about 7,370 acres to about 12,705 acres, officials reported in the morning situation report.

The largest fire is now the Bull Flat blaze, which began last week with a lightning strike near the Canyon Creek Fish Hatchery on the Fort Apache Indian Reservation. It had grown to about 5,000 acres by Tuesday morning but was considered 35% contained.

The Gladiator fire, near the historic mining town of Crown King, had grown to about 1,600 acres, officials said. That fire, which has destroyed three structures, is about 5% contained.

The town of Crown King remains under a mandatory evacuation order, but few of the 350 residents have left. The town contains a large number of summer homes, officials said. The fire there is also about 5% contained.

The Elwood fire, about 45 miles northeast of Globe, in the San Carlos Indian Reservation, has burned about 1,150 acres, officials said. The fire is about 5% contained.

The Sunflower blaze, also about 5% contained, had burned about 4,600 acres in the Tonto National Forest.

Weather has become a concern as firefighters push to contain the blazes, with the National Weather Service issuing a red-flag warning in some areas. That warning indicates strong winds with gusts of up to 20 miles an hour and low humidity of less than 12%, both having the potential to make firefighting efforts more difficult.

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Michael.muskal@latimes.com

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