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Arizona Wildfires Continue to Scorch Thousands of Acres as Residents Evacuate

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Published on May 16, 2012

Fanned by strong and erratic winds and dry weather, wildfires continued to rage in parts of Arizona on Wednesday morning (May 16).
At least 4 blazes burnt more than 5,000 acres of parched Ponderosa forest, brush and grassland and consumed half a dozen buildings.

The Sunflower Fire, the largest of the fires in central and eastern Arizona, burned at least 3,100 acres in the Tonto National Forest, about 40 miles (64 km) north of Phoenix, destroying two homes, a business and two outbuildings over the weekend, the Southwest Coordination Center said.

About 350 residents in the nearby community of Crown King were under mandatory evacuation after the human-caused fire dubbed the Gladiator Fire burned at least 600 acres of ponderosa pine, brush and chaparral in the Prescott National Forest and destroyed three buildings.

The blazes were the first major wildfires of the season in Arizona this year, after a record 2011 fire season in which nearly 2,000 recorded blazes together swallowed more than 1,500 square miles, according to the National Interagency Fire Center.

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