Firefighters continue to gain ground on the Roach Fire burning near Dudleyville in and as of tuesday evening have the fire 95% contained.
More than 200 firefighters from across Arizona and the Southwest are working to ensure fire lines are holding up due to gusty winds associated with the afternoon monsoons storms. Crews also continue to patrol for hot spots and possible new starts because of lightning strikes. Fire Managers stress that residents may still see flare ups of the fire and shouldn’t be alarmed.
The fire quickly moved through salt cedar vegetation along the riverbed. Salt cedar, also known as Tamarisk, is a nuisance and hazard to firefighters. Tamarisk is not only highly flammable, but it causes a fire to burn hotter and faster. Within hours of starting, the Roach Fire grew to three miles long and ½ mile wide before air and ground crews had the chance to stop its movement and its growth.
Evacuations were begun immediately by Pinal County Sheriff’s Office on Cholla Road near Palo Verde due to the proximity of the fire and the threat to nearby homes. Eleven buildings were destroyed in the fast moving wildfire, two of which were occupied homes. No information was given on which homes were destroyed.
By midnight Friday, 100 families were evacuated; 500-600 were without power; and 300 homes were without gas. Dudleyville evacuees began returning to their homes on Sunday night. Electrical service was restored by San Carlos Irrigation Project. Southwest Gas utility workers went door to door restoring service Sunday evening and throughout Monday. Power and gas were shut off for safety and it was reported that several power poles had been destroyed in the fire.
The American Red Cross established an evacuation/cooling center at the Hayden High School. Additionally, San Pedro Valley Baptist Church was open for evacuees and was established as the incident command center.
Highway 77 was closed temporarily Friday night, but was reopened by 1:45 a.m. to allow traffic through.
Dudleyville Fire Department was first on scene and was the main responder and dispatcher throughout the emergency. Many other agencies sent firefighters to the scene. The Department of Forestry and Fire Management, the U.S. Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management, along with tribal and fire departments from Mammoth, Hayden, Winkelman, Superior, Queen Valley, Oracle, San Manuel, Pinal Rural, Globe, Elephant Head, Picture Rocks, Surprise, Corona de Tucson, Golder Ranch, Rincon Valley, Mesa, Hellsgate, Sun City, Heber-Overgaard, Tubac, Kearny, Pinal County, and Timber-Mesa are collaborating on the fire. Oracle’s CERT team was on hand to lend support to the firefighters.
Pinal County Public Works Monday announced that it will host a cleanup event for fire related debris. Fire damaged items including: appliances, construction material, green waste, large metal objects, refrigerators and structural materials can be taken to the Dudleyville Landfill Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Hazardous and other materials such as fuels, pesticides, fertilizers, propane tanks, motor oil, lubricants, whether damaged by fire or not, cannot be disposed of properly at at landfill. Non-acceptable items also include: anti-freeze, batteries, hazardous waste, household trash, oil, paint and tires. Any residents bringing non-acceptable items will be turned away. No commercial business loads will be accepted either. Heritage Environmental Services will take all hazardous items for Pinal County. Please call 520-723-4167 for more information.
Any questions about the recovery cleanup should be directed to Jason Jordon at 520-866-6685 or 520-705-8824.
For up-to-date information on the Roach Fire, please visit: https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/5332/
Copper Area News would like to thank our readers for helping us get the word out about the Roach Fire. We especially thank those who sent us photos and video from the scene.