Wildfire burns nearly 7,000 acres near Prescott National Forest

Fire started by lightning strike

By Nicole Chavez and Pierre Meilhan, CNN
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PRESCOTT, Ariz. - A wildfire burning in central Arizona is forcing evacuations in a remote area near Prescott National Forest in Arizona, the US Forest Service said.

The Cellar Fire has burned nearly 7,000 acres in an area located about 16 miles south of Prescott, and it was 0% contained as of Thursday, fire officials said.

Firefighters have been trying to contain the fire since a lightning strike ignited it on Sunday, the forest service said.

A mandatory evacuation was issued Thursday for residents in Pine Flat, the Yavapai County Sheriff's office said.

Several communities in Yavapai County were getting ready for possible evacuations.

Crystal Makinson, a resident in the area, spent hours taking some of her belongings to a relative's home in New River.

"Emotionally out of control. I'm tired. I'm exhausted trying to get everything out from up here. We just did this last, couple years ago with our family," Makinson told CNN affiliate KPHO/KTVK.

Several air tankers have been dropping retardant in an attempt to contain the fire. At least four helicopters and 18 engines have responded to the area, the forest service said.

The wildfire comes weeks after community members honored 19 firefighters killed six years ago in one of the deadliest wildfires in the United States. The firefighters -- members of the Prescott Fire Department's Granite Mountain Hotshots -- died battling the Yarnell Hill fire, northwest of Phoenix. The fire began on June 28, 2013 and quickly spread burning 8,400 acres and destroying more than 100 structures.

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