Big mulch fire in Laveen spewing smelly smoke, nearby school closed

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A mulch fire that has been burning in Laveen since Wednesday evening continues to spew smelly smoke into the air. By Catherine Holland A mulch fire that has been burning in Laveen since Wednesday evening continues to spew smelly smoke into the air. By Catherine Holland
A mulch fire that has been burning in Laveen since Wednesday evening continues to spew smelly smoke into the air. By Catherine Holland A mulch fire that has been burning in Laveen since Wednesday evening continues to spew smelly smoke into the air. By Catherine Holland
A mulch fire that has been burning in Laveen since Wednesday evening continues to spew smelly smoke into the air. By Catherine Holland A mulch fire that has been burning in Laveen since Wednesday evening continues to spew smelly smoke into the air. By Catherine Holland
A mulch fire that has been burning in Laveen since Wednesday evening continues to spew smelly smoke into the air. By Catherine Holland A mulch fire that has been burning in Laveen since Wednesday evening continues to spew smelly smoke into the air. By Catherine Holland
A mulch fire that has been burning in Laveen since Wednesday evening continues to spew smelly smoke into the air. By Catherine Holland A mulch fire that has been burning in Laveen since Wednesday evening continues to spew smelly smoke into the air. By Catherine Holland

LAVEEN -- A mulch fire that has been burning in Laveen since Wednesday evening continues to spew smelly smoke into the air.

It started at about 5 p.m. at a recycling plant in the area of 61st Avenue and Dobbins Road. The fire is burning natural materials, including manure and sawdust, and is creating quite a stench.

"The odor is pretty bad right now," said Capt. Scott Walker of the Phoenix Fire Department. "We were getting calls all the way into Scottsdale last night, with the smoke reaching that far."

Walker said the Air Quality Control has been called in to runs some tests, and while the smoke is odiferous, no evacuations are necessary. Those who are particularly susceptible to respiratory issues, however, should take extra care.

"What we're recommending for everybody is for them to stay sheltered in their homes. If they have any type of problems, shut their swamp coolers and their a/cs off" said Cap. Jonathan Jacobs of the Phoenix Fire Department. "If you don't have to be out in that environment or you are susceptible to smoke and things like that, then don't go out ... until we can get that taken care of."

Walker said the fire will burn throughout the day and possibly into tomorrow.

While it's not yet known exactly what sparked the fire, chemical processes that take place in mulch and manure piles are often to blame for this kind of situation. It also happens with haystacks.

Because the fire gets deeps into the mulch piles, fire crews are having to use heavy equipment to knock them down. They have also  laid a long hose line -- nearly a mile -- to bring in water from irrigation canals.

Jacobs said there's not much in the way of flames, but there is extremely heavy smoke.

"That smoke production is something we're very concerned about at this time," he said.

Betty H. Fairfax High School, which is east of the recycling plant, is closed because of the smoke.

No buildings were threatened and no injuries have been reported.

One year ago this week, a similar fire was burning at the same location.

"Typically, every year, we see one of these," Walker said.

"It gets us every year about this time of year," said a neighbor.