The Kearny river fire has become a considerable threat to residents of the Arizona town. Thursday’s winds have raised concern among firefighters as the blaze has spread southeast of the valley and forced the evacuation of 300 residents.
Why would there be a fire in a river, you might ask? Long-time Arizonans could tell you that most rivers in the state are rivers in name only. The desert town is so plagued by dry heat that unless there is near-record rainfall, most rivers are little more than ditches. The Gila River runs through the town and seems to be the source of the growing brush fire, though authorities have not yet determined what started the blaze.
Firefighters claim that the blaze is in no way contained, and their progress in controlling it is at the mercy of the winds. It had been doubling in size every hour on Wednesday, but by that night, the temperature had dropped enough to slow it down.
Brush and salt cedars at the bottom of the wash appear to be the primary source of fuel for the Kearny river fire. Arizona State Forestry Division spokesman Mike Reichling explained it further.
“The density of the fuel and the amount of grease and oils that are in these types of fuels causes the fire to burn hotter, so it spreads faster. Then with the winds we had [on Thursday], that was a real concern for us.”
Depending on how the winds shift, either a trailer park or the town of Riverside could be in danger in what has been described as the worst fire locals have seen.
Governor Doug Ducey released a statement about the efforts being made to contain and stop the Kearny river fire.
“My office is in close communication with emergency management officials as they work to contain and extinguish this fire. My thoughts and prayers are with the firefighters working diligently to contain the fire and the Arizonans who have been displaced. We will continue to monitor the fire and provide any and all resources necessary to extinguish it.”
As homes are destroyed, so far no injuries have been sustained. Those whose homes have been lost will be given aid in finding new homes. The rapid spread of the blaze also forced the shutdown of State Route 177, but the roadway has since been reopened.
FAST FACTS: Latest updates on Kearny fire http://t.co/PXneVaNrOR
— ABC15 Central/S. AZ (@abc15csa) June 17, 2015
According to Tucson News Now, Reichling says the Kearny river fire is mostly moving northwest, possibly threatening Ray High School.
Those evacuated by the fire had been sent to the high school, but have since been relocated to an elementary school in Superior.
[Image via the Star-Ledger / Jennifer]