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Thu, June 27

BCC blaze destroys outbuildings, trailer

Several things worked together to keep a dangerous fire from becoming a nightmare Saturday in Black Canyon City.

Firefighters worked through exploding ammunition, burning vehicles, venting propane tanks that added extra fuel, and downed, live electrical wires to keep the huge blaze from spreading to surrounding homes and a shed that contained gunpowder.

Black Canyon Fire Chief Tom Birch said one of his firefighters was at the landfill at about noon Saturday when he noticed smoke near Squaw Valley Road and called for help. The fire quickly spread to the thick bamboo at the side of a residential property, then burned a mobile home and the contents of a large yard.

Two firefighters had some heat-related problems while battling the fire, Birch said, but were able to stay on the scene. Firefighters discovered later that two dogs perished in the blaze, but Birch said the fire was so hot and dangerous that they would not have been able to get in to save them even if they had known they were inside the property.

Because the property was full of vehicles, old propane tanks, ammunition, and gunpowder, the fire quickly became a huge conflageration, Birch said, and a real danger to firefighters.

"It was an uphill battle," he said. "We had to keep our distance, because with the ammunition you have no clue where the bullets are going, and the propane and black powder were extremely dangerous. Firefighters working on the east side of the fire said their knuckles were burning inside their gloves, that's how hot it was."

Because the firefighter spotted the smoke early, crews were able to quickly respond. Birch said the first engine arrived in approximately five minutes of the call, and BCVFD sent out calls for additional help to Mayer and Daisy Mountain Fire Depts.

Birch credited Gregory and Cook Construction, the company working on a natural gas pipeline in the area, with helping to turn the tide on the fire. The company sent two 3,000-gallon water trucks, a 4,000-gallon truck and an 8,000-gallon truck, and began pouring water on the fire.

"I give them kudos for doing that," he said. "Without that water it would have been a much more uphill battle."

While they could not save the mobile home, firefighters were able to keep the fire from the gunpowder, Birch said.

Fire trucks and the tanker trucks shuttled water from the hydrant at the old greyhound racing park in Black Canyon City, which is supplied by the Black Canyon City Water Improvement District. Birch estimated that firefighters used 35,000 gallons of water and 25 gallons of fire retardant to fight the blaze.

He said the cause of the fire is still under investigation.

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