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Western wildfires: Firefighters make progress in Colorado, Arizona

May 21, 2012|By Michael Muskal

Firefighters in Colorado and Arizona had a good weekend, making significant gains on wildfires in those states: In Colorado, officials said the Hewlett fire should be contained by Tuesday; in Arizona, two of four wildfires were listed at 95% contained.

The Hewlett fire, about 20 miles from Fort Collins, was 87% contained, officials reported Monday. The fire, which began May 14, has so far burned 7,685 acres.

At its peak last week, more than 500 personnel had battled the blaze along with two planes and five helicopters.

Officials said a camper started the fire with an alcohol outdoor stove in the Roosevelt National Forest. The camper contacted the Larimer County Sheriff’s Office to say he started the fire.

That camper, James J. Weber of Fort Collins, was given a citation and faces a $300 fine plus a processing fee. The Forest Service will also pursue Weber for restitution, officials said.

In Arizona, the Bull Flat and Elwood fires were reported to be 95% contained, according to the daily situation report. The two larger fires, the Sunflower and Gladiator, near the historic mining community of Crown King, were still going strong, however.

The Sunflower fire, in the Tonto National Forest, was at 33% containment, but was not expected to reach full containment until the end of July. So far, more than 16,000 acres have burned. The cause is still under investigation.

The Gladiator fire, which has burned more than 14,000 acres, was about 15% contained. No containment date was given. Its cause has been linked to a structure fire on private property.

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michael.muskal@latimes.com

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