Doce Fire explodes into first major wildfire of season - KAIT-Jonesboro, AR-News, weather, sports

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Doce Fire explodes into first major wildfire of season

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Dolce wildfire northwest of Prescott. (Source:  Lisa Fundak) Dolce wildfire northwest of Prescott. (Source: Lisa Fundak)
(Source: CBS 5 News) (Source: CBS 5 News)
(Source: CBS 5 News) (Source: CBS 5 News)
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PRESCOTT, AZ (CBS5) -

A wildfire that began eight miles northwest of Prescott grew to more than 7,000 acres by Wednesday morning, and more firefighting crews were on their way.

Carrie Templin, an information officer at the Doce Fire, said no structures had been lost as of 5:30 a.m. Wednesday and that crews were beginning to assemble in strategic areas to try to get the upper hand on the fire that took off from 20 acres to 500 acres in one hour Tuesday afternoon.

She said 512 people were already fighting the wildfire and more crews were being called in, though she said she didn't have exact numbers.

"Crews are coming from all over," she said. "Type 1 teams will take over the fire some time today."

She said the exact cause was still undetermined.

Templin said crews were being cautious as to where they were being placed in the steep, rugged mountain terrain.

"The last thing we want to do is march a crew up a canyon and get them killed," she said.

Winds gusts up to 40 mph were being predicted for the area, posing a potential problem for air support.

"If the weather cooperates, we will have helicopters and tankers in the air," she said.

A spokesman for the Grand Canyon Chapter of the American Red Cross said seven evacuees spent the night at a makeshift shelter at Yavapai College.

As of 6 p.m., the Doce Fire had blackened 5,000 acres, according to USDA Forest Service spokeswoman Mary Zabinski.

Mandatory evacuations were first ordered in the Granite Basin area. By early Tuesday evening, residents at American Ranch and Sundown Acres off Williamson Valley Road were told to leave, according to Yavapai County Emergency Management.

The Yavapai County Sheriff's Office has been facilitating operations to get homeowners out safely. A shelter has been set up at Yavapai College at 1100 E. Sheldon St. Voluntary evacuations were occurring in the Iron Springs Club area.

Up to 300 homes have been evacuated in all, the Grand Canyon Chapter of the American Red Cross said.

"We have cots and blankets for overnight stays," said Red Cross spokesman Brian Gomez. "We have everything someone would need who has been evacuated."

Evacuated residents wanting to reconnect with loved ones are urged to register through the Red Cross Safe and Well website at http://www.safeandwell.org/.

One of those who evacuated, Margaret Olson, said she was in downtown Prescott running errands and saw the smoke.

"I could see it was in the area of our cabin," Olson said.

She raced home and grabbed what she could.

"Your heart just breaks," she said. "You're looking around and thinking it's such a lovely area and you realize the damage the fire is doing."

Gary Miller owns the Prescott Valley Racetrack, formerly the Yavapai Downs RV Park at the fairgrounds, and has offered dozens of stalls for evacuated horses.

"We recently cleaned out 180 stalls in our lower barn area," Miller said. "The first 90 have water and electricity. Any horse owner that needs to take care of their horses can pull in and take a stall."

About 150 Arizona Cactus Pine Girl Scouts on an outing five miles south of the fire are OK.

"All of our girls are totally safe," said Susan de Queljoe, who is with the group. "We would never do anything that would put them in harm."

The fire started south of Iron Springs Road at about 11:30 a.m. It crossed a state highway and headed north. 

Law enforcement personnel closed Skyline and Iron Springs Road for safety reasons.

Winds gusting to 22 mph fanned the flames Tuesday afternoon. Kaibab National Forest fire lookouts reported smoke was traveling from the southwest to the northeast.

Two crews with five engines are on site. Authorities have ordered two more air tankers, two helicopters, 10 additional crews and 10 engines.

A DC10 has been dropping thousands of pounds of fire retardant.

"We've also ordered two other air tankers as well," said USDA Forest Service spokeswoman Mary Zabinski. "It buys time. It retards the growth of the fire to allow ground forces to move in."

Local agencies and the U.S. Forest Service are also lending tactical support, said Chino Valley spokesman Rob Zazueta.

The Forest Service has closed campgrounds in the Granite Mountain area and access to all area trails.

Authorities said they don't know yet how the wildfire started.

Stay with cbs5az.com and CBS 5 News for updates on this developing story.

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