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Several Scottsdale fires sparked from construction crews

After several recent fires sparked from construction crews, Scottsdale fire is asking crews to better prevent fires from starting and spreading.

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — A string of recent construction-caused fires in Scottsdale has the fire department pleading for help to not lose property or lives.

In total, seven recent fires have been from construction crews, according to the local fire department. 

“They’re not waking up in the morning wanting to start fires, but they’re just not being responsible on these construction sites,” Capt. Dave Folio with the Scottsdale Fire Department said. 

Saturday is one example when, Folio said, a construction crew sparked a three-acre brush fire near Tom’s Thumb, and six fires before that too. 

“For whatever reason you get a subcontractor that shows up and he wants to cut rebar and he just doesn’t realize, he’ll cut the rebar, turn to do his work, and he’ll look back and we’ve got three acres well involved,” Folio said. 

Last June, the human-caused Diamond Fire sparked down the road from where Saturday’s brush fire started. 

“That was human-caused, right? No lightning in the area, you know, you got construction in the area and that quickly went to 1,900 acres, you know, and that’s a lot – that’s over 1,000 people evacuated, we were evacuating livestock, we’re bringing in air tankers to protect 15 structures that were immediately exposed,” Folio said. 

This year, it’s wind and fine fuels that are big concerns for an active and dangerous fire season. 

“We just walked down into the desert and it’s already knee to hip high through here,” Folio said. “So when this stuff catches on fire and starts to run into the desert floor, especially with this little bit of wind that we have – it’ll blow this fire over that road. It’ll blow a spark over there. It’ll catch this on fire and now we’re chasing it another 1,000 acres to our east.” 

In Pinal County, more than 25 human-caused wildfires have sparked in about a month according to the Arizona Department of Forestry and Fire Management. 

So far Pinal County Sheriff’s Office said they’ve written nine citations in the last few weeks related to those fires. Right now, any burning is illegal in Pinal County so those citations are for unlawful burning, including anything from weeds to cardboard to even welding a fence post. 

“Every fire matters because it could result in a fire company leaving their normal area to assist an area that doesn’t have fire protection,” Lt. Ross Teeple with PCSO said. 

Protection and prevention is what the Scottsdale Fire Department is asking for, especially from construction crews. Like having hoses and fire extinguishers around, creating a 10-foot defensible space around sites, and keeping sites clear of flammable materials. 

Crews are also asked to call 911 immediately if a fire does spark as Folio said crews haven’t been calling 911, but Scottsdale fire is receiving calls of smoke in the area from nearby residents instead.

“There’s just things we can do to be responsible, to not start wildfires because it has such an effect on one – the geographical area, and it could burn down homes and kill people,” Folio said. 


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