Update on the Gladiator Fire--May 17 pm.

May 17, 2012

The Gladiator fire continues to grow at a high rate, now standing at over 6,500 acres, and still 5% contained. 

The Gladiator fire has more than tripled since Wednesday morning.

Southerly winds continue to blow the fire north, away from Crown King.

There are more issues than weather though.

Michael King, with the Southwest Type 1 Incident Management Team said, "There’s extreme fire behavior because of the rate of spread, the dryness of the fuels, [and] the rugged, steep canyons.”

Firefighters are working along the fire’s west flank in the hopes of saving communication equipment on Tower Mountain. 

Airtankers are dropping flame retardant, while hot shot crews work to clear vegetation around the towers.

Crews are also thinning the vegetation canopy around Crown King in case the fire shifts directions.