Northern Arizona fire departments were busy this weekend battling a rash of off-season wildfires. More than a half dozen blazes were reported throughout the area.
The Ponderosa Fire Department battled 10 to 15 foot flames in sage brush near Spring Valley Road north of Parks on Saturday. Fire Chief Mark Sachara said some of his firefighters were already on the scene of an abandoned campfire north of Bellemont on the Coconino National Forest when they were called to the Parks blaze.
A homeowner was burning debris when the fire got away. The flames engulfed a horse trailer and shed, but Ponderosa and High Country Fire Department crews were able to contain the blaze before it reached a nearby travel trailer. A horse trailer was also damaged.
Residents living near Garland Prairie in Pineaire were not so fortunate, as a suspicious fire in dry grasses caught and destroyed a travel trailer on Sunday. Ponderosa and Camp Navajo Fire Departments contained those flames before a neighboring travel trailer was destroyed, but a shed was also burned. The Coconino County Sheriff’s Office is investigating that fire.
Sachara encouraged residents to be cautious with disposing ashes and smoking materials because of the extremely dry winter.
Another series of fires hit the Summit Fire District over the weekend. Officials said a combination of dry conditions and out-of-control residential burns were to blame.
Five cars, a partially built home and a camper trailer used as a home were all destroyed at one large fire south of Leupp on Saturday.
“It looked like urban warfare -- like a bomb dropped,” said Carlos Luna, spokesperson for the Summit Fire Department. “We don’t necessarily usually send that many guys outside of our district, but when we got that many guys calling saying they need help.”
The fire required resources from the Flagstaff Fire Department, Summit, CCSO and Guardian Medical Transport.
Luna said an additional fire was caused by a man welding. It reached about one-tenth of an acre.
“It’s real dry,” Luna said. “We’re going to be in for a lot of things like that. All it’s going to take is a spark and if people don’t have their yards maintained and lawns mowed real short, it’s going to be trouble.”
Eric Betz can be reached at 556-2250 or firstname.lastname@example.org.