Gladiator Fire victims return to their homes

CROWN KING, AZ - An increase in the fire's containment and better weather is partly why residents are returning to Crown King and other nearby towns.

Darla Boch is one of the many who on Friday returned to her home in Crown King.

Boch and her husband quickly grabbed their dog and what little they had at the hotel and headed back to town.

Boch recalls what it was like driving into town: "To see it in the day and to see that massive burn from just one end of the mountain to the other. "

The couple, whose home is also a lodge for visitors, was one of the last to evacuate.

They live on Gladiator Mine Road a couple homes away from where the fire started. The fire said to be named after the road.

"We could actually hear them as those flames shot up," Boch said. "I've never seen anything like that before."

Fear of the flames and a plea from a local firefighter convinced them to leave. The couple also couldn't fathom having to watch their home burn down.

"When I close my eyes at night I could still hear and see them," Boch said referring to the flames. "It just takes off like a torch."

Boch shared pictures she took of her surroundings with ABC15.

She wonders how the hundreds of firefighters have managed.

Despite strong winds and dry conditions, crews were able to get a handle on the fire.

The couple remembers getting the fifth ticket for those trying to get back to their homes.

"The creepiest part is looking at the tops of the mountain with what looked like twigs where it used to be large trees," she said.

Six structures were lost in the fire.

"We've been blessed and we certainly can't discount the fact that there's been angels above us," Boch said.

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