Homeowner returns to Crown King - CBS 5 - KPHO

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Homeowner returns to Crown King

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Gladiator Fire Gladiator Fire
PHOENIX (CBS5) -

The destruction the Gladiator fire left behind in Crown King is something returning homeowners fear, but know they have to go back and face.

"From the pictures I have seen from other folks and on the news, it was not just burned, it was burned to the rocks. Just an absolute moonscape. That is going to be hard to see," said Robb Grueter, who owns a vacation home in Crown King.

On top of dealing with the memories of the fire pushing him from his home, Grueter said he had been glued to the television watching every move the fire made.

"I recognized all the trails, I recognized most of the homes. It is heartbreaking to watch all that forest burn," Grueter said.

Now, after almost two weeks, the evacuation has been lifted for part-time residents. Grueter said he can't wait to get back to his home and friends.

"Looking forward to seeing the neighbors and helping out those folks that need their refrigerators cleaned out and moved. Just kind of organizing, just kind of getting back in touch with folks after the last couple of weeks," Grueter said.

He knows the landscape is forever changed and the threat of another fire is constant. However, he said for him Crown King is and will be his home away from home.

"There is always going to be a hazard some place. As long as the trees around my place are still there, and as long as the people are still there, we'll keep going back," Grueter said.

As of Sunday afternoon, the fire was 45 percent contained.  It has so far blackened 16,240 acres. The estimated price tag for damage done is pegged at $13 million. 

Copyright2012 KPHO (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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