Gladiator Fire

Zac Ziegler

When this summer’s monsoons hit, officials from the Prescott National Forest worried.

Zac Ziegler / KNAU

Scenes of wildfires are almost commonplace this time of year in the southwest

Photos of billowing smoke and threatening orange flames…

Firefighters weighted down with equipment…

Homeowners looking weary and frightened…

Behind the dramatic images though are sometimes hundreds of men and women putting in long hours in poor conditions, doing dangerous work.

Media reports about the Gladiator Fire, southeast of Prescott, routinely mentioned rough terrain slowing down fire fighters.

Here’s an idea of just how rough that terrain is.

The Gladiator Fire has topped 16,000 acres, but the blaze has slowed considerably this week.  

It grew by leaps and bounds in its early days. 

A major reason has been the Red Flag weather warnings that have plagued most of the 12 days the fire has been burning.

But proper planning and frequent reevaluation has helped keep the fire at bay.

Gerry Perry with the Gladiator Fire Incident Management Team said, "“Every day there’s a strategy that’s briefed, and the firefighters are deployed in accordance with that strategy.”

Kari Greer / US Forest Service

The Gladiator Fire grew only a small amount Wednesday despite weather conditions that had previously made the fire grow rapidly.  

The fire's damage now stands at 15,600 acres.  The fire made no significant gains on Wednesday. 

Containment levels have also stayed the same at 26%.

Large flames continue to burn on the interior of the fire, but fire lines and hot shot crews are containing the spread of the fire.

High winds and low humidity continue to keep a red flag warning in effect in the area.

Kari Greer / US Forest Service

The growth of the Gladiator Fire seems to have stalled despite high winds and dry conditions.  

The fire did not add any acreage overnight.  It stands at 15,600 acres.

The fire is 26% contained, and fire crews seem to have a good hold on the fire in crucial areas, such as the borders creeping towards Crown King and Towers Mountain.

Gerry Perry with the Gladiator Fire Incident Management Team describes how the line is holding near Tower Mountain.

Kari Greer / US Forest Service

Red Flag warnings are causing the Gladiator Fire to spread quicker than it has in recent days. 

The damage increased over 600 acres since Monday.  It now stands at just over 15,600 acres.

Control numbers continue to rise, with the fire now 26% contained.

Some of the resources used on the fire are being diverted to new wildfires in Arizona.

Gerry Perry with the Gladiator Fire Incident Management Team:

“We did lose four air tankers that left for other fires.”

That leaves the fire crew with two flame-retardant dropping planes.

Kari Greer / US Forest Service

Fire crews continue to fight the Gladiator Fire in Prescott National Forest. 

The fire has now burned more than 15,000 acres.

Fire crews have been working on holding back the southern and eastern fronts of the fire in order to protect the small communities in the area.

Southwesterly winds are now gusting up to 25 miles per hour, testing the lines that crews have built.

Despite the large size of the fire, there has not been much damage to man-made structures in the area. 

The Gladiator Fire continues to grow in Prescott National Forest, but fire crews continue to make progress.  

The fire's damage now stands at nearly 15,000 acres. 

On Monday it grew by less than 5%,  roughly 800 acres.  

It had only grown about 1,200 acres over the weekend.

The low winds have allowed smoke to settle into the towns in the area of the fire.

Yavapai County addressed the air issues, saying that people in the area, particularly those in Mayer and Dewey-Humboldt, should avoid outdoor activities when smoke is noticeable in the area.

The spread of the Gladiator Fire slowed over the weekend, allowing firefighters to make progress in controlling the blaze.  

The Gladiator Fire has now spread to over 14,000 acres, and is 15% contained.

Low winds this weekend means the fire grew by only 1,200 acres between Friday and today.

Gerry Perry is with the Gladiator Fire Incident Management Team:

“When you have high winds in this kind of situation, extreme fire behavior occurs, and it’s extremely dangerous for the fire fighters to get very close to the front lines.”

Zac Ziegler

A weekend of calm winds has helped the fire crews working on the gladiator Fire.  

The Gladiator Fire is just over a week old, and has now burned 14,000 acres of Prescott National Forest.

Significant advancements were made on stopping the fire this weekend. It is now 15% contained.

Gusty winds and low humidity caused a rapid spread of the fire throughout last week.

Gerry Perry with the Gladiator Fire Incident Management Team says in conditions this dry, all it takes is one ember.