Debris fire along Mesa freeway burns through tires, tree stumps, wood chips
MESA, Ariz. -
Authorities say a large debris fire burning along a Mesa freeway was allowed to burn through the night, and it will likely burn for several days.
Mesa Fire Department spokesman Forrest Smith says the fire is burning over an area the size of several football fields just off the Loop 202 freeway. It started about 3 p.m. Wednesday.
Smith says the fire is consuming debris that had been dumped onto the roadside, including old tires, tree stumps and wood chips, some piled up to 100 feet high. The fire was sparked off by organic items and yard clippings.
What's making the fire-fighting difficult is the wind and the absence of fire hydrants. Crews brought in a water source and sprayed the edges of the flames with water to keep it from spreading Wednesday afternoon, but will allow it to burn on its own.
"Right now the best strategy is to protect the people on the highway, the highway patrol is monitoring that very closely. There was extreme heat up there, we know there's a lot of smoke up there now. They're going to shut down the freeway if they deem it unsafe," said Colin Williams of the Rural Metro Fire Department.
As of 5:40 p.m. the on-ramp to the 202 from McKellips was back open. Traffic on the 202 was slow at times due to the thick smoke.
As of 9 p.m., about 2 acres have burned.
No injuries have been reported and no structures have been damaged. The cause of fire is unknown, but spontaneous combustion is possible.
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