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Northern AZ wildfire grows, prompts evacuations

Associated Press Modified: May 14, 2012 at 8:46 pm •  Published: May 14, 2012

CROWN KING, Ariz. (AP) — Firefighters continued to battle a wildfire Monday in northern Arizona that has forced residents from their homes in the historic mining town of Crown King just weeks ahead of the busy tourist season.

The fire began on private land Sunday and has burned about 2 square miles as of Monday afternoon, with zero containment. The 1,300-acre, human-caused blaze already has destroyed two buildings and one trailer, Prescott National Forest spokeswoman Debbie Maneely said.

The Crown King area remained under a mandatory evacuation order, though authorities said most of the town's 350 residents had chosen to stay in the community of mostly summer homes.

Maneely said most residents likely were staying with family and friends. An American Red Cross shelter in Mayer, which is about 24 miles north, had several evacuees, but they had left.

Meanwhile, a fire south of Payson was 5 percent contained by Monday evening after charring nearly 5 square miles in the Tonto National Forest. Authorities have yet to determine a cause.

The fire, and several others burning in Arizona, follow a warning from state land managers that hot temperatures and dry vegetation have created a very high fire risk in some areas.

Crown King is a popular destination for all-terrain vehicles because of its numerous hills and gorges. It is located in the mountains more than 85 miles north of Phoenix.

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