Debris fire burning next to Loop 202 in Mesa


by Jennifer Thomas

Video report by Jared Dillingham

Posted on October 9, 2013 at 3:40 PM

Updated Monday, Oct 14 at 6:52 AM

MESA, Ariz. – A debris fire is burning next to the westbound lanes of Loop 202 (Red Mountain Freeway) at McKellips Road in Mesa.

The fire started Wednesday afternoon and continues to burn on the north side of the freeway.

Officials believe the fire began in a heap of palm trees and yard clippings brought to the area from people's backyards over the summer. The property owner had intended to turn it into mulch but never got around to it.

Investigators believe spontaneous combustion may be to blame.

"It's not uncommon for a fire to light itself from the inside out," Colin Williams of the Rural Metro Fire Department told 3TV.

The strong winds moved the flames into other materials at the storage and scrap business.

People living nearby feared the winds would send embers their way.

"It freaked me out when I saw the black smoke, and I went out back to get the hose ready," Richard Gonzales said.

Mesa fire Capt. Forrest Smith said the windy conditions made it difficult for firefighters. In addition, there are no fire hydrants in the county island so they had to truck tanks of water in to the fire zone.

No structures are threatened at this time and no injuries have been reported.

Firefighters said the fire could burn for the next two days.