Photo by Les Stukenberg.
Fortunate circumstances allowed area firefighters to quickly extinguish a highly visible wildfire that threatened the Terraces at Glassford Hill apartment complex in Prescott Valley mid-day Wednesday, April 18.
Several reports of smoke and fire on Glassford Hill were called in to 911 at around 1:15 p.m., according to emergency dispatch relays.
Within about 10 minutes, firefighters with the Prescott Fire Department and the Central Arizona Fire and Medical Authority (CAFMA) were on scene evaluating the situation.
The fire had started in grasslands at the base of a 15-foot retaining wall just below the apartment complex – which sits about halfway up the southeast end of Glassford Hill.
By 1:35 p.m., crews had already knocked down the 10-foot flames with water and were coating the half-acre of burned area with fire-retardant foam to tame any residual heat.
“We were very fortunate,” said Rick Chase, CAFMA's fire marshal. “All the right pieces came together. Somebody called it in, the guys got here, you had a wall that blocked it, you had wind blowing it toward the wall, and since it started at the top of the hill, it didn’t really have much opportunity to creep anywhere else.”
Had one of these factors been different, so might have been the story.
“It could have been bad,” Chase said. “If the flames hit one of those buildings, it would have ignited; then with the winds, embers would have been blown; it would have been catastrophic.”
The nearest building to the flames was evacuated just in case things did get out of hand.
While the cause of the fire wasn’t immediately determined, Chase said it certainly wasn’t natural.
“It was human caused,” he said. Which brings up the standard safety message this time of year.
“We’re getting into prime fire season,” Chase said. “We’re in fire restrictions. There’s going to be no smoking outside designated areas, cars or yards, and make sure no one is flicking cigarettes around. Use caution. Anything that creates a spark, make sure you have water or a fire extinguisher there.”