Huge mulch fire burns in the West Valley; nearby school cancels classes

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By Tami Hoey By Tami Hoey
By Tami Hoey By Tami Hoey
By Tami Hoey By Tami Hoey
By Tami Hoey By Tami Hoey

PHOENIX -- A massive mulch fire continues to burn in the West Valley, spewing a huge plume of smoke into the air and prompting officials at Betty Fairfax High School to cancel summer classes for Wednesday.

Crews from Phoenix, Avondale and Tolleson fire departments are battling the blaze burning near 62nd Avenue and Dobbins Road.

The fire started Tuesday afternoon and quickly pumped and large cloud of smoke into the sky. That smelly smoke may become an issue for those who live in the area, and is the reason classes at Betty Fairfax were canceled.

Craig Pletenik, a spokesman for the Phoenix Union High School District, told Fort McDowell Casino News Chopper's Bruce Haffner the school has dealt with this situation before.

"This is not an unusual situation for Betty Fairfax high School. We usually have a mulch fire out there every year," he said. "I think we have for the last four years. It usually happens in late April, early May.

"This one is probably a little more convenient, if there is such a thing, because we only have summer school, and we only have 250 kids at the school instead of 2,000 kids," Pletenik continued. "We know that we're out in the heart of farmland out there. Even though we're Phoenix Union High School District, we're certainly not central city. I guess it's something we're learning to live with."

The first-alarm fire is burning on a family-owned property. Fire crews tell us the wind is a factor in controlling the flames.

Right now, no buildings are in danger, but crews are working to make sure the wind gusts don't spread the flames to any nearby properties.

The cause of the fire is not known. Firefighters say they plan to let portions of the fire burn itself out.

Pletenik said the district hopes to resume classes Thursday at another campus.

"We're working on an alternative site to hold classes," he said. "In summer school, when you miss a day, you miss a week."