Fifty-acre brush fire in Black Canyon City considered suspicious

Posted at 3:56 PM, May 28, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-29 19:51:46-04

A suspicious brush fire that sparked Saturday afternoon just east of Black Canyon City reignited hours after it was contained.

Around 6 p.m., multiple fire departments responded to initial reports of a fire at auto salvage yard C and S near Smitty Way at Tara Springs Road. Due to high winds in the area, the blaze, later dubbed the Joes Hill Fire, moved out of the yard and started a brush fire north of it. 

The fire scorched about five acres before it was contained. Investigators say the fire is considered suspicious at this time because of its location. 

Just hours later, around 11:15 p.m., Black Canyon City and Daisy Mountain fire crews responded to reports of a three-alarm fire in the same area. When firefighters arrived, they discovered a larger fire that was fueled by heavy winds. The fire spread to about 50 acres. 

Officials said Monday morning that the fire was 100 percent contained. 

Twenty nearby residences were evacuated as a result of the incident. Six structures were deemed a total loss, however, there could be more. The evacuation order was lifted Sunday evening, according to the Arizona Department of Forestry and Fire Management. 

"It was a huge fire," resident Randy Sortor said. "It was so bright that you could see the plume of smoke in the night time. This was pretty scary because it was coming down the river — not really fast, but it was crawling along good." 

The American Red Cross stepped up to help victims affected by the Joes Hill Fire. They set up a “comfort station” at Canon School and are offering sleeping arrangements for people who were removed from their homes. However, the shelter has since been closed due to the lifted evacuation notice.

“What families need to know is that they should listen to the authorities and if it’s time to evacuate, they should do so,” American Red Cross spokesman Collin Williams said. “If they’ve been evacuated from their home during this incident we have a place for people to come and have a beverage if they need it.” 

One person who was evacuated was hospitalized over health concerns, an American Red Cross spokesperson said. 

Before residents could return to their homes, a hazmat team with the Daisy Mountain Fire Department made sure the area was safe.

"There were concerns that when you start burning those products, what do they produce as far as hazardous material," Daisy Mountain Fire Chief Mark Nichols said.

According to the American Red Cross, about 20 people utilized the shelter. Two people lost their home in the fire and are being assisted by the Red Cross.

Crews are continuing to monitor the salvage yard for hot spots. The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality is evaluating the scene to determine if any hazardous materials were involved.

As of early Sunday morning, 240 firefighters were working to extinguish the flames.

A dog was rescued from the second fire, a Daisy Mountain fire spokesperson said. However, no injuries have been reported and an investigation into the incidents is ongoing.