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NW Firefighters battle blazing Arizona

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Photo: Video by kgun9.com

NW Firefighters battle blazing Arizona

CREATED May 17, 2012

Reporter:  Jessica Chapin

TUCSON (KGUN9- TV) - It's a fast and fierce start to fire season this year as wildfires continue to tear through forests North of Phoenix.  More than 17 thousand acres are ablaze in Arizona.  Hot shot crews from the Northwest Fire District are on scene to assist.

Capt. Adam Goldberg with NW Fire says they have about 30 personnel involved in the wildfire-fighting, including 20 firefighters.  They have been spread across several large fires in the past couple of days.

The Bull Flat fire East of Payson burned 1,900 acres, where crews are making progress to control the blaze that began a week ago.

The Sunflower fire is at 12,500 acres burning the Tonto National Forest.  Firefighters were able to contain 10 percent Thursday morning.

The Gladiator fire north of Phoenix is proving to be one of the most challenging to fight.  I reached more than 6 thousand acres threatening residents of Crown King.  Goldberg says they may have even more obstacles ahead.

"In speaking with one of the incident commanders at the Gladiator fire just yesterday, it's very tough terrain," he said, "They've got a lot of fire, a lot of fuel that's very difficult to get to and of course, weather."

High winds are predicted throughout the weekend.  Goldberg says they had predicted a busy fire season and they're not getting any relief so far.

"Unfortunately our predictions are really coming true in that it's early, it's a big season so far and I don't think we've seen the worst of it yet," he said, "A lot of obstacles to overcome and mother nature is certainly not giving us any assistance in getting these fires out."

Goldberg says it's a reminder to local residents that even though these fires seem far away, the situation could easily spread.

"Start thinking fire safety because we're 100 degrees almost the rest of the summer, winds, low humidity," he said, "and it really could happen right in our own backyard."

The state has implemented fire restrictions for most of Arizona including all of Southern Arizona.  To see those new regulations, click here.