Arizona Fire Consumes 800 Acres, Five Homes

Firefighters used aircraft and shovels Thursday to tame a wind-whipped wildfire that burned seven structures, including five homes, on the fringe of this mile-high city.

The fire was 45 percent contained by evening and, though it grew to about 1,000 acres, it did not escape a line dug nearly all the way around the blaze, said Lori Cook, a spokeswoman for the Bureau of Land Management.

Firefighters would work through the night to hold the fire, and 1,150 firefighters would attack the fire Friday, she said.

"We want to get in there and get it contained as soon as possible," Cook said.

The blaze was about three miles from downtown Prescott, and about 1,500 people had been evacuated since the fire was spotted Wednesday. It still was considered a threat to 2,000 homes on the city's edge.

Those who were evacuated could be out of their homes for another day or two, said Tom Bonomo, a safety officer for the Prescott National Forest.

The fire was spotted Wednesday afternoon in the forest near Prescott, a city of 33,000 about 90 miles north of Phoenix. The cause was not immediately known.

It was the type of fire people had been dreading as northern Arizona came out of its driest fall and winter in more than 100 years.

"Out here they say it's not if it's going to happen, it's when. We knew this could happen. But you never think you'll be evacuated from your house," said John Martin, a 66-year-old retiree.

The fire was one of several in Arizona this week.

A blaze west of the San Francisco Peaks near Flagstaff was reported 95 percent contained at 60 acres by Thursday. An 840-acre wildfire in the Coconino National Forest was 60 percent contained. No homes were threatened.