Fire along I-17 causes 10-mile backup

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By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland

CORDES JUNCTION, Ariz. -- A fire in the median of Interstate17 slowed traffic for hours Sunday, forcing cars into just one lane in each direction.

The backups stretched for as much as 10 miles. Many drivers opted to pull over and wait it out.

Fire officials from the Bureau of Land Management say the blaze was human-caused. An investigation is being conducted to find out exactly how it started.

The fire, named the Cordes Peak Fire, quickly grew to 20 acres and was expected to be fully contained by Monday morning.

Mike Scoplitte from Phoenix was trying to drop his daughter off with his ex-wife, who lives in Prescott Valley. But the meet-up took much longer than usual because traffic was restricted to one lane in each direction.

"It's frustrating; it's inconveniencing a couple hundred people or 1,000 people here today," he said.

Officials say it's possible a discarded cigarette butt could have caused the fire. Other possible scenarios include a dragging tow chain, poor car maintenance like a tire blowout, or even a hot car pulling over to dry grass.