7K acres near Prescott burn; 460 houses are evacuated

2013-06-20T00:00:00Z 2013-06-20T08:26:36Z 7K acres near Prescott burn; 460 houses are evacuatedStaff And Wire Reports Staff And Wire Reports Arizona Daily Star

PRESCOTT - Firefighters largely kept control of a blaze burning in Arizona's Prescott National Forest and spared any homes from destruction but were preparing for what should be another windy, hot day today.

The wildfire burned about 7,000 acres just west of Prescott, moved into people's backyards and forced the evacuation of 460 homes.

A DC-10 tanker capable of dropping 17,000 gallons of fire retardant at a time over dense brush and timber was helping to keep the fire away from homes, incident commander Tony Sciacca said Wednesday.

Meanwhile, crews anchored the fire on the south end, while other aircraft attacked it on the north under red flag conditions, and dozers built lines on the western side.

"The bottom line is we're holding our own," Sciacca said.

The fire that broke out before noon Tuesday remained at zero percent containment. Winds from the southwest were pushing the fire north toward American Ranch, an equestrian community once home to 1970s pop music duo Captain and Tennille.

Families were evacuated from American Ranch and Granite Basin Summer Homes, officials said. Neighborhoods in Williamson Valley were on notice for potential evacuations.

The steep, rocky terrain with flashy, flammable fuels on Granite Mountain was challenging firefighters who were trying to bring the blaze to flatter land to minimize potential harm, Sciacca said.

Flames broke through the smoke Wednesday afternoon as helicopters picked up water from a local pond and dropped it on the mountain.

Jennifer and Kent Fairbairn are among those who evacuated from American Ranch, watching the fire quickly move over a ridge within a few hours while they packed and fled. They praised firefighters for the work done.

"We're very confident they did an amazing job," Jennifer Fairbairn said. "Locally, we're mostly concerned about when we're getting home. You wonder if you're going to have a home to go to."

Said Kent Fairbairn: "It could be so much worse, you just have to keep it in perspective."

Like firefighting crews, the Fairbairns were closely watching the wind. It was expected to gust to 30 mph today.

No injuries have been reported, but health officials warned that smoke in nearby Chino Valley had hit dangerous levels and advised residents with respiratory problems to stay inside with air conditioning.

A shelter was set up at Yavapai College, and livestock was sent to the Prescott Rodeo Grounds.

Others were waiting Wednesday along a road closed to the general public and at a general store parking lot to see if they'd eventually be counted among the evacuees.

The blaze was human-caused, but fire officials haven't determined exactly how it started.

Meanwhile, smoke from another fire that broke out Wednesday afternoon was visible from Grand Canyon National Park. It had burned about 60 acres, and no structures were immediately threatened.

In Colorado, a new wildfire in the foothills southwest of Denver forced the evacuation of dozens of homes Wednesday as hot and windy conditions in the West created prime conditions for fires to start and spread.

The Lime Gulch Fire in Pike National Forest was small but devouring trees about 30 miles southwest of Denver in southern Jefferson County. More than 100 people were told to leave, but no structures appeared to be threatened, Jefferson County Sheriff Ted Mink said.

He said the fire might have been sparked by lightning a day earlier, then quickly grew in high winds Wednesday. The U.S. Forest Service estimated it was burning on 500 acres.

On StarNet: Find more photos of the Doce Fire at azstarnet.com/gallery

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