PRESCOTT VALLEY, Ariz. - As the Goodwin Fire grew exponentially nearby, hundreds of concerned citizens and evacuees packed the gym at Bradshaw Mountain High School Tuesday night.
Officials wanted to stand up and answer questions from those affected.
"The area that's burning has been our worst nightmare," said Prescott National Forest Fire Chief Pete Gordon. "This is what we've been planning for. The worst-case event and it's happening at the worst possible time."
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Firefighters are dealing with an unfortunate medley of wind, heat, and dry conditions. Several communities including Mayer and Poland Junction were evacuated Tuesday evening.
"It's hard to stay at ease. All the people that are here today are very nervous," said Yavapai County Sheriff Scott Mascher.
Mascher spent over an hour after the meeting answering questions individually, but many of them can't be answered yet.
"We're trying to organize chaos. This is wry chaotic out there. The wind of blowing one direction one minute and another direction the next," Mascher says.
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It is an unsettling reality for people affected, because the fight is out of their hands. In many ways, the fight is out of firefighters control as well.
"How much are we willing to risk to save valuables. Life is the number one priority. No doubt. And our firefighters lives are a top that priority," Gordon says.
Officials with the Red Cross are asking for help with Pete crates and cages at the Bradshaw Mountain High School shelter. Many people are choosing not to stay there tonight, but did drop off their animals.