PHOENIX - Investigators are looking into the cause of a massive fire that damaged buildings, cars and injured firefighters in an industrial area west of downtown Phoenix.
According to a statement by Cpt. Kimberly Quick-Ragsdale with Phoenix Fire, crews were sent to the area of 31st Avenue and Buckeye Road at around 3:00 p.m. for reports of a grass fire with possible extension to a fence.
"Firefighters arrived to find heavy smoke and flames. Due to high winds, the fire quickly spread to nearby industrial properties, and the initial response was rapidly upgraded," read a portion of the statement.
The incident quickly grew into a four-alarm fire.
More than 100 firefighters were on the scene trying to get the flames under control, and three of them ended up going to the hospital.
Two were taken to the hospital due to heat-related symptoms. The other firefighter suffered a soft-tissue injury.
"We had a lot of fuel over there, we had mixed industrials," said Capt. Quick-Ragsdale. "We had mobile homes, we had structures involved, we had vehicles and machinery. That all kind of mixed together to make it a challenging situation for our crews."
For a time, the fire produced a long, dark cloud of smoke that hovered over the Valley, and could be seen for miles. The smoke affected air quality, especially for people living close to the scene.
"Tickling of nose, and have to shut off the cooler because all that smell is coming in, even a little bit, the next day you still smell the burning, you know?" said Bonnie Calvin.
Dozens of families were forced out of their nearby mobile homes as the toxic fumes were sent into the air. In all, six people were displaced. Calvin said this is not the first four-alarm fire for the area.
"Yeah, it’s pretty serious around here, and it’s not getting any better," Calvin said, adding she is pretty sure the fire on Aug. 2 won't be the last fire of its kind in the area.
Fire crews reportedly spent the night watching for hot spots at the fire scene.
Officials say the cause of the fire is under investigation.
Firefighters at the scene also battled the elements
Firefighters had to deal with not just the fire on Aug. 2. They were battling the flames while wearing 75lbs of gear, during a period of intense heat.
Phoenix Fire officials detailed their plans to help keep the firefighters safe from heat-related problems.
"We can keep recycling our crews in and out of that fire zone to keep our firefighters fresh," said Cpt. Todd Keller with Phoenix Fire.
In addition, firefighters are put on a strict 30-minute time limit before they are recycled in and out. They can also tap out on their own if the heat gets to be too much.
"It can be 115 out, and they’re 110 feet in the air shooting water for two three or four hours, so these firefighters train every single day for events like yesterday," said Cpt. Keller.