Originally Published: May 17, 2018 6:01 a.m.
Multiple wildland fires kept Prescott firefighters busy on Monday, May 14, as they battled the blazes throughout the day.
Prescott Fire Department (PFD) first sent two engines to fight a small fire on West Gurley near Gail Gardener at 9:15 a.m. They were able to get a quick knockdown on the fire — keeping it to a mere one-tenth of an acre — despite the variable winds and heavy leaf litter and cottonwood seeds.
No sooner had the firefighters wrapped up work on the first fire when a second fire was reported in Granite Creek Park by multiple callers. The first arriving engine reported a fire roughly an acre in size moving north toward homes on the west side of the La Guardia Bridge.
Three engines were able to make short work of the fire and keep it out of the homes. A Central Arizona Fire and Medical Authority (CAFMA) water tender was brought into the scene to assist with dousing any lingering heat sources due to the lack of fire hydrants in that area of the park. Montezuma Street had to be closed for a brief time while the firefighters initially fought the fire. Causes of the two fires are currently under investigation.
Several hours later — at about 4 p.m. — Granite Creek Park was once again aflame. This time, it was on the east side of the La Guardia Bridge and north of the parking lot.
A Prescott Fire Division Chief had spotted the fire while driving by the park. Two PFD engines as well as two Forest Service engines and a Battalion Chief initially responded. The late hour of the day and decreased wind of the early evening caused less active fire behavior than the event earlier in the day. No structures were threatened. These facts allowed the firefighters to employ a different strategy in fighting this fire.
“Fires in the park area are an annual event due to the accumulation of leaf litter and highly flammable cotton seeds,” said PFD spokesperson Conrad Jackson. “The firefighters chose to allow the fire to continue its gentle burn through these materials while managing and controlling its perimeter and progress.”
This effort effectively removed the fuels for the remainder of the fire season in this part of the park. Crews were on scene for three hours managing the burning, and eventually brought in a CAFMA water tender to provide ample water to thoroughly extinguish the fire.
While the cause of this fire is still under investigation, several witnesses stated they saw children with some sort of torch playing in the area. Anyone with information regarding any of the fires should contact the Prescott Police Department at 928-777-1900.
The fire department asks that people visiting the park be extra vigilant to the behavior of others. The park has suffered from both intentional fire setters in the past, as well as folks who recklessly discarded their smoking materials.
The greater Prescott area is still under Stage 2 fire restrictions and will remain so until the monsoon rains arrive. Smoking outdoors and any open flames or spark producing activities are prohibited during these restrictions.
Information provided by the Prescott Fire Department