Massive progress made on mulch fire

Posted: Updated:
By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver

EL MIRAGE, Ariz. -- According to a Rural Metro Fire spokesperson, the property owner is making massive progress on the mulch fire burning in Maricopa County near El Mirage.

Colin Williams says the property owner rented equipment from a private company and is "making huge headway" on the fire that broke out in a 25-acre pit Saturday night.

Williams says the owner spent most of Wednesday flooding the basin where fire is, using large sprinklers and heavy equipment to extinguish the material and prevent the fire from spreading to surrounding unburned fuel.

The result, however, is an increase in thick, brown smoke visible across most of the West Valley.

"I think it's horrible," said Avondale resident Gene Hubbard who was out running errands with his family Wednesday. "Last night we were sitting down and all of a sudden it just creeps up on you."

Hubbard says he was able to smell the smoke inside his home as well as outside.

At the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality, they are offering tips for people who are being impacted by the smoke:

1. If possible, temporarily relocate.

2. Keep windows and doors closed.

3. Run the air-handling system or fans in your home.

4. Limit your time outdoors.

Eric Massey, director of air quality for ADEQ, says even though the smoke smells bad, it's not a significant health hazard.

"The air quality in this area and especially through the Valley right now is meeting EPA’s health-based standards," Massey said. "I know that’s a hard thing to accept because we can all smell the smoke and it really smells like a giant campfire."

Massey says the overall air quality is "moderate" in the Valley, although there may be pockets where the air quality is worse. Maricopa County is monitoring the air in those areas.

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