Weekend fire under control but will burn for several days

Flames and smoke from the Thunderbird Farms fire. [Jenece Mordt]

A blaze that started Saturday afternoon at a tree farm along North Warren Road south of West Pima Road continues to burn and is expected to burn for the next week or so, according to Allen Allcott, fire chief of Thunderbird Fire District. 

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While the flames have calmed down and are under control, debris continues to burn. The fire started at about 3:30 p.m. on Saturday.    

According to Allcott, the decision was made to contain the flames instead of attempting to put them out. 

“Due to the thickness of everything in the middle of the tree farm, I haven’t sent anybody inside to try to put everything out … I made the decision to do containment, instead of fighting it. Our main goal was to stop it from progressing to the east,” Alcott said.  

He added that there are two large pits full of trimmed limbs that had accumulated for 15 or 20 years. 

“We are not going to fight them and will just let them burn themselves out.” 

Cause of the fire, which has burned an estimated 15 to 20 acres, is still uncertain, Allcott said. There were no injuries. 

Thunderbird Fire District and North Hidden Valley Fire Department worked together to battle the blaze. 

Firefighters put about 18 hours into containment of the fire over the weekend. There were about 20 firefighters and 10 firetrucks on the scene. 

The community also chipped in. 

Tom Dugan brought us down a barge loader, and Tom Crabtree brought us a second loader and a backhoe,” Allcott said. “I had them cut about a 70-foot road right across the middle of that tree farm.” 

Creating a firebreak in the tree farm was an attempt to cut off the fire and stop it from jumping and continuing to burn all the way to Ralston Road, according to the fire chief. 

“We got a lot of support from the community. We had many people calling, wanting to bring water and help any way they could,” Allcott said. 

While the Fire Departments appreciate the support, the chief stressed that passersby should keep their distance from incidents, as they can hinder operations. 

“We had a couple of times where my firetrucks couldn’t get maneuvered because we had people outside their cars trying to take pictures,” Allcott said.