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Thu, Nov. 14

Roadway sparks ignite 4 fires along Highway 69

Central Yavapai Fire District personnel put out hot spots at one of four wildland fires that flared up along Highway 69 between Prescott and Prescott Valley Thursday morning.<br>
Photo courtesy Les Stukenberg/The Daily Courier

Central Yavapai Fire District personnel put out hot spots at one of four wildland fires that flared up along Highway 69 between Prescott and Prescott Valley Thursday morning.<br> Photo courtesy Les Stukenberg/The Daily Courier

A series of four likely related fires along Highway 69 Thursday morning served as a further reminder of the high fire potential currently in the Prescott area.

"If we'd had the winds we had the last few days, at least one of them would have gotten away from us," Prescott Fire Department spokesman Wade Ward said.

At about 9:30 a.m., dispatch began receiving calls about fires along the highway, beginning near Rhinestone Drive in the Diamond Valley area and continuing toward Prescott nearly as far as Lee Boulevard.

PFD Fire Inspector Brett Lucas said the four fires were likely caused by sparks from something, possible a chain, dragging behind a vehicle on the highway, and that all four were likely from the same ignition source.

"We couldn't find anything that could have been used to ignite the fires," Lucas said.

In all, six units from Prescott Fire and Central Yavapai Fire District responded to the calls, backed by support from Prescott police and Yavapai County sheriff's deputies.

Ward said that the lack of strong winds, combined with an increase in humidity, helped prevent any of the fires from spreading out of control.

Still, he said, the ease with which the roadside brush ignited is a reminder of how volatile local fire conditions have become.

"Everything is just so primed and ready to burn," Ward said, pointing out that, during the Iron Fire on Tuesday that burned more than 500 acres north of the Prescott airport, even green grasses ignited because the fuels around them burned so ferociously.

Given the probable cause of the Thursday fires, Ward pointed out the pertinence of the Forest Service's slogan for this fire season, "One less spark, one less fire." He said a brochure has been created concerning spark prevention and is available at local libraries and fire stations.

The fires created a sluggish traffic situation on the highway while firefighters extinguished them.

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