PHOENIX - Two homes were destroyed, and another four were damaged after a massive fire that burned in East Phoenix on June 30.
The flames broke out on June 30 near 40th Street and McDowell Road, and reportedly spanned an entire city block near 42nd Street and Oak. Fire crews from Phoenix, Scottsdale and Tempe were involved in putting out the four-alarm fire.
"The fire appears to have started as a backyard palm tree fire that quickly spread into dense vegetation and surrounding homes. The hot embers from the fire, became airborne and landed on nearby homes, alleyways and vegetation," read a portion of a statement released by Cpt. Rob McDade with Phoenix Fire.
"There were flames flaring up, stronger and stronger right behind our home," said Kris Pitrat, who called 911 as flamed inched closer to her home of 20 years. "There’s dozens of dozens of fire trucks here, I could hardly believe."
"Firefighters were simultaneously battling structure fires, vegetation fires, and large palm tree fires. Elevated master streams from ladder trucks were deployed along with firefighters on hose lines. Crews were able to eventually extinguish the fire inside of this large geographical footprint."
Besides the two homes that were destroyed, another four homes were damaged, along with some small backyard structures. No injuries were reported.
At one point, SRP officials said 2,100 of their customers in the area were without power.
As an investigation into the fire continues, at least one person who lives in the area said they believe the fire was human-caused.
"I heard fireworks, and they've been shooting off for the past month now," said one area resident, who did not want to be identified. That person also took a video of the area, after they called 911.
According to the resident we spoke with, homeless people have been staying in the alley, and may have been setting off illegal fireworks.
"it was just one palm tree, by itself, lit up," said the area resident. "As the fronds started falling down, they went across the alley."
Fire officials are warning residents to only use legal fireworks, and to cut back overgrown landscaping that could ignite from sparks.
"The cause of the fire is still under investigation, but we do have to be concerned about fireworks and firework safety," said Kimberly Quick with the Phoenix Fire Department. "The fire spread very quickly from neighbor to neighbor because of the amount of foliage in each yard. We like to remind people to create defensible space around their homes. Trim your trees. Trim your palm tries. Take care of dried grass or any fuel that could be tinder for fire."