Crews keep up the fight against mulch fire in Laveen

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High school cancels classes

Huge mulch fire burning in Laveen - Firefighters in Laveen say they could be battling a huge mulch fire for the next few days.

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LAVEEN -- Betty H. Fairfax High School in Laveen canceled classes Monday due to unhealthy air quality from a huge mulch fire that continues to burn in the area.

However, significant progress by firefighters and a positive assessment of the air quality at the school site by Arizona Department of Environmental Quality late Monday led to the school district's decision to reopen the school for Tuesday.

Firefighters say they could be battling that fire for the next few days.

It started Sunday afternoon at R and D Recycling near 63rd Avenue and Baseline Road southwest of Phoenix.

So far, 10 acres have burned.

Mulch fires are tricky because the flames get under the mulch and continue to burn inside the piles.

Crews are using front-loaders to try to get to the center of the fire.

Huge plumes of smoke were visible for miles and the smell of the burning mulch, which is made up of wood chips, sawdust, hay and manure, permeated the area.

Because there are no fire hydrants in the area, getting water to the fire has been a challenge. Crews have had to pump water from canals nearly 1,000 feet away.

Investigators are not sure exactly how the fire started, but neighbors said this is not the first fire at this location.

"I walked outside and I go, 'Oh, it's on fire again," said Jennifer Foerst, who has lived in the area for six years. "It's happened more than once -- at least three times. ... They just don't wet it enough, and so when the winds blows, this is what happens."

While the fire is stubborn and causing firefighters concern, no buildings are threatened and no injuries have been reported.

Google map of the area