Last year, Arizona’s wildfire season was one for the record books. It was the worst wildfire season to date — more than 900,000 acres were charred.
The Wallow Fire, which burned through half a million acres, is the largest Arizona wildfire on record, KSAZ-TV, Phoenix, reported.
The 2012 wildfire season is already off to a busy start. Five wildfires are burning in Arizona right now.
The two fires causing the most trouble are the Sunflower Fire, burning just south of Payson, and the Gladiator Fire burning in Crown King.
The Sunflower Fire is the largest wildfire. Nearly 300 firefighters are on scene, and helicopters and air tankers are being used to fight the flames.
The Gladiator Fire started as a house fire then quickly spread into a wildfire. About 1,300 acres have burned.
People who live in Crown King are under a mandatory evacuation order.
As of Monday afternoon, the Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office estimates that about 12 homes near Crown King remain occupied, representing 30 residents.
Anyone who has been evacuated or needs a place to stay due to the Gladiator fire can bring their RVs or campers and stay for free at Fairgrounds RV Park in Prescott Valley, located next to Yavapai Fairgrounds, 10443 HWY 89-A.
The U.S. Forest Service closed all roads leading into the community of Crown King Monday afternoon. This includes the Cleator – Crown King Road (County Road 59), Senator Highway to Crown King (County Road 52) and Forest Road 192. The fire did jump portions of Crown King Road.
Two buildings and a trailer have been destroyed. Residents are very worried about their neighbors and their homes.
Volunteers with the American Red Cross are providing additional assistance at a shelter in Mayer.
Volunteers say homeowners who come to the shelter are often very concerned and upset and are unsure as to what is going to happen next.
“One of the goals of the shelter is to give people a safe haven where they can sit and take a moment to think, as well as a place they can receive information and get an understanding so they can get their feet back off the ground,” said volunteer Phil Mele.
This group of volunteers will be gone for a couple of days, but they will stay longer if the fire conditions get worse.
The Sunflower Fire is burning south of Payson along the Beeline Highway. It has burned 3,100 acres and is 0 percent contained.
No homes or buildings are threatened by the flames, and so far, Highway 87 has not been closed.
Weather is always a big factor in fighting these, and wind has been a big problem over the past few days.
As for the rest of the wildfires in Arizona, the smallest wildfire is burning near Kingman. There’s another one about 20 miles northwest of Cibecue. The Elwood fire is burning in eastern Arizona, about 35 miles north east of San Carlos.