Monday, June 30, 2008

Crown King four days ago

As a rule, I sleep somewhat late; I had noted in my early morning fog that the sunlight coming in through the clerestory windows had a somewhat red tinge, but it wasn't until I arose at 9 a.m. and looked out the window to see a sky hazy with smoke that I realized we had a forest fire somewhere near Prescott. A click on the Fire Alert link at right revealed that the location was near Crown King.

Approximately 250 people live full-time in Crown King, a forest inholding about 30 miles south of Prescott. Sometimes as many as 1,500 people can be recreating on the forest in the remote area on the weekend, according to the Prescott Courier. The fire was started late Saturday night by a lost hiker who stupidly set a signal fire. Sson and I were there just this last Friday.

In case you haven't visited this old mining town at the south end of the Bradshaws, it's a favorite summer retreat for Phoenicians. The business district consists of two saloon/restaurants, the general store and a small souvenir shop. You buy your gas at the general store ($5.14/gal.) The Courier mentioned that Crown King is about 30 miles from Prescott. That's if you are a crow. If you are in a vehicle, 4-wheel-drive preferable, you can make it down the mountain range in 4-6 hours on the old Senator Highway. Almost any car can drive the long way, around the mountains on the Interstate and then across the desert and up the road that was formerly an old narrow-gauge railroad grade up the side of the mountain. Maybe an hour and a half time for the "30 miles" this route.

The general store serves up curios and deli goodies and stuff for the tourist trade. A corner serves as the local post office.

The chapel is a new addition since I was last in town; a new structure, called with suitable irony the Crown King Mall, was also under construction. There is also a one-room schoolhouse.

Popular rides in this mountain enclave include jeeps and their many derivatives, not to mention quads and other ATVs. Far more important are the civic vehicles (below) -- the ambulance and, to the rear, fire equipment.

Most of the trees which died in the past couple of years from beetle infestation were already taken down in the immediate area of Crown King, though big equipment was still much in evidence. It would take dozers like these to topple the tall trees; out in the forest nearby, I saw many dead trees that had simply been uprooted, lying on the hillsides. Eventually, they will be sawn or possibly just moulder.

Many of the houses in the Crown King area are scattered through somewhat remote forest areas. Most of the residents were evacuated on Sunday, though, fortunately, the fire has moved away from the town site at last report. One home and a small sawmill burned, however. Tower Mountain (below), a handful of miles north of Crown King, is an important relay point for modern-age communications, as well as housing a fire look-out station.

Note: both Tombo and Karoliina were up early enough to photograph the red sun shining through the heavy smoke this morning.


OmegaMom said...

Apparently it's up to 5,300 acres now...

Anonymous said...

I sure hope they get that fire under control.

Anonymous said...

I didn't know that the bark beetle was in that area.

It's a wonder that the hordes of Phoenicians aren't even bigger than they are, considering where they're coming from.

TomboCheck said...

Very nice backstory for the current news.

Artful RV Adventurer said...

we have camped up there and it is definitely one place you can't leave in a hurry. A fire up there would scare me to death way before it consumed me. Tinder dry country.

Granny J said...

dotter -- no further info at this point, except that the fire has dropped into Hell Hole, which is the canyon entrance to Crown King. The FS won't ask tanker planes or choppers to slurry bomb that terrain because it's too dicey.

steve -- thank you for that sentiment. Wildfires are Very Scary in these parts. We had our first rain of the season last night, but I don't know how much of the forest got wet.

boonie -- the AZ forests suffered the bark beetle Big Time; some areas around here were decimated.

tombo -- kinda eerie to have been in Crown King just before the fire. And to have decided to take pix, too.

mark -- Sson, GD & I spent several hours at one of his study sites at Pine Creek, a few miles south of Crown King. A rough drive. At the time, I let the idea of wildfire cross my mind...obviously not a good idea.

Anonymous said...

Will you have an update on the fire?

Granny J said...

steve -- current update is that the fire is now 7200 acres & 5% contained, which isn't very much. At one point, the fire crossed over the main road into Crown King, but that tongue was squelched. I'll keep everybody posted.

Anonymous said...


DDD said...

There is an interesting "General Store" photo from AZCentral taken on July 1st to compare with yours at

Also, current Crown King news can be found at

DDD said...

Lane 2 Fire Update - July 5, 2008, 11:00 a.m.

from Arizona Central West Zone Incident Management Team at

Contact Numbers: (928) 632-9949 (928) 632-9950

Start date: Saturday, June 28, 2008

Location: Community of Crown King, AZ

Containment: 50 percent

Terrain: Steep, rugged, difficult access

Total personnel: 585

Equipment: 27 engines, 13 water tenders, 3 dozers

Acres: 10,100 acres

Cause: Human caused, under investigation

Fuels: Timber litter and understory

Crews: 16 crews

Available air support: 6 helicopters

Horsethief Basin Summer Homes Remain Evacuated

While residents of Crown King will return to their properties today after 6:00 p.m., the summer homes in Horsethief Basin will remain evacuated. Numerous hazards still exist in the area of Horsethief Basin. The fire line in that vicinity is not fully controlled. Firefighters continue to work on the fire line, patrolling and mopping up hot spots. Numerous dead trees standing precariously near the access route, present a serious hazard. Heavy equipment is working rehabilitating those areas disturbed by the suppression efforts. The properties in Horsethief Basin are not threatened; access to the area is hazardous. With the abatement of the hazards, hopefully within the week, the area will be reopened to the public.

Starting this evening, Crown King residents may return to their properties. For security reasons, no one will be allowed entry into the evacuated area without proof of ownership or residency. Please have appropriate paperwork and identification for this purpose. Only single vehicles will be permitted beyond check points at Cleater and Goodwin. No trailers will be allowed due to safety considerations.

For additional information regarding re-entry into the evacuated area, please contact the telephone numbers above.

# End #

Granny J said...

DDD -- thanks very much for all that info; have you passed it on to Tombo or Foolsewoode or Gadget?

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