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Prescott Fire Responds to 7 Wildland Fires In One Day
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14 April 2017   Don Devendorf, Fire Marshal

Seven. Wildland. Fires. In. One. Day.

On Thursday April 13, 2017, at approximately 6:07AM, the Prescott Regional Communications Center received a 911 call reporting a grass fire in the area of Highway 89A and Granite Dells Parkway. The airport Engine and a Patrol responded. Upon turning onto Highway 89, just south of the airport, the responding crew found a 2 foot by 2 foot small grass fire on the north side of the highway. While stopping to extinguish that fire, the crew noticed another fire, approximately 10 feet by 10 feet in size, on the same side of the road, approximately 100 yards south of their location. The crew split up to extinguish the two fires, and at the same time, calls kept coming on reporting the original fire out Highway 89A. Another Engine Company was dispatched to the original fire and they found three more fires, on the north side of Highway 89A, between Granite Dells Parkway and the Highway 89/89A intersection. The second Engine Company took action of the largest of the 5 fires which was approximately 20 feet by 200 feet. The first Engine and Patrol then responded to extinguish the remaining two fires, one 10X10 and the other 20X20. An Engine was dispatched from Chino Valley to check the rest of the highway between Prescott and Chino Valley to assure not more fires were started. No more fires were found. It appears that the fires were started by a vehicle, traveling from Prescott Valley to Chino Valley, was most likely dragging a trailer chain, and causing sparks that ignited all the fires.  

At 9:07AM, 911 calls were received by the Prescott Regional Communications Center reporting a fire in the area of the Golf Course, the same area of the original fires but on the other side of the highway. Dispatch reported callers saying that the fire was spreading rapidly. An Engine and Patrol arrived to find a fast moving quarter acre fire spreading rapidly in all directions in tall grass moving towards heavier brush and trees. The Engine used its bumper turret to quickly knock down the flaming front of the fire. A fireline was constructed around the fire and all hot spots were fully extinguished.

At approximately 1:00PM, the dispatch center received multiple calls of smoke in the area of Boulder Creek Road in the Granite Dells. The fire was west of the Dells, and while smoke could be seen from Highway 89, Willow Creek Road, and Willow Lake Road, the exact location of the fire could not be determined until crews hiked in from both Granite Dells and Heritage Park. Crews found a fire burning about one quarter mile west of the Boulder Park subdivision, and with the help of 2 Engine Companies, and a Patrol, were able to extinguish that fire when it was approximately one quarter acre in size. The investigation clearly showed that the cause of the fire was a campfire that had spread into the grass and brush. No one was around when crews arrived but the evidence was clear as to the origin and cause of the fire. 

While we have had a wet winter and spring, grasses dry out quickly with wind and sun and higher temperatures, sometimes as quickly as one hour from being saturated to being dry enough to burn. Residents should take note that these fires are an indication that grasses are ready to burn in Prescott and should take precautions with open fires, trailer chains that are too long and drag the ground, lawnmowers and weed trimmers that have steel blades and create sparks when they contact rocks, vehicle exhaust systems that can come in contact with grasses when they are driven over tall grass, underinflated tires that can fail and cause sparks when the steel vehicle rim comes in contact with the pavement, vehicle brakes in need of service that could have metal to metal contact or overheat causing a fire, chainsaws that can hit nails and rocks when being used, and discarding smoking materials in a reckless manner.