Burn pile turns to wildfire, threatens neighbors' homes

CVFD/Courtesy photo<br>A Chino Valley firefighter sprays a hot spot on a contained 50-acre wildfire Wednesday afternoon.

CVFD/Courtesy photo<br>A Chino Valley firefighter sprays a hot spot on a contained 50-acre wildfire Wednesday afternoon.

CHINO VALLEY - A backyard burn Wednesday afternoon turned into a 50-acre wildfire that came within 30 feet of neighbors' homes before firefighters stopped it.

A resident along Liana Drive in the Vista Grande Estates subdivision of Chino Valley had a burn permit from the Chino Valley Fire District to burn piles of yard waste in his backyard. But when the wind picked up to about 15 mph around 4 p.m., the burn torched into nearby grass and continued onto neighboring state trust lands, CYFD spokesman Rob Zazueta said.

Vegetation is unusually dry right now because of the dry March, Zazueta said.

"This is a good opportunity to remind residents to maintain defensible space around their properties, not just their homes," Zazueta said. "It's obvious things are drying out quicker than normal."

He saw several piles of wood and yard debris in neighbors' yards that would fuel a wildfire.

The property owner should have done a better job of clearing vegetation around the burn pile, Zazueta said. He also should have been more aware of the change in wind conditions.

Zazueta was unsure at press time whether the fire department had cancelled its earlier approval of residential burns by Wednesday afternoon because winds had picked up.

CVFD burn permits require people to clear a 10-foot area around small burn piles, plus have plenty of water on site, Zazueta said.

Chino had to call for help from Prescott and Central Yavapai firefighters. A total of about 25 firefighters put a halt to the spread of the wildfire in about two hours, Zazueta said.

Chino police also helped with traffic control and investigations.