Lt. Jeff Newnum of the Yavapai County Sheriff's Office announces that full-time residents and business can return to Crown King immediately.
MAYER, AZ (CBS5) -
Full-time residents and business owners of Crown King displaced by the Gladiator Fire were allowed back into their community Friday morning.
Lt. Jeff Newnum said the Yavapai County Sheriff's Office and Southwest Incident Management Team had worked out a three-stage process to allow residents and the public back into the area:
Phase One: Beginning at 8 a.m. Friday, full-time residents and business owners were being allowed up the mountain. Residents of Turkey Creek and Pine Flats will be allowed to return at 6 p.m. Friday.
Phase Two: Part-time residents can return to the areas beginning at 8 a.m. Saturday.
Phase Three: The Crown King and surrounding areas will be reopened to the public on Monday, Memorial Day.
Newnum said roadblocks would remain in place during the weekend, to ensure that community members can get to their homes and return to everyday business. He said residents and business owners will be issued access passes that will allow them through the roadblocks.
The Gladiator Fire has burned more than 16,000 acres but was at 35 percent containment Friday morning, and no smoke was visible in the vicinity of Crown King.
Some members of the firefighting crews had been released to join efforts against other wildfires in the West. There were more than 1,200 firefighters working the Gladiator Fire on Thursday. By Friday morning, about 990 were still there.
Newnum said the Arizona Public Service was confident it would be able to restore power to the area by Friday afternoon, far sooner than the two weeks previously believed.
He said officials are still concerned about gusty winds that could flare up spot fires and that estimates were the fire would be fought for at least another two weeks.
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