Apr 25, 2013 9:26 PM by John Patrick

Winds and debris fuel fire on Tucson's south side

TUCSON - The Tucson Fire Department was sent into action as wind and debris fueled a fire on Tucson's south side.

The fire started near 3rd Avenue and 23rd Street just before noon and it's not the first time that fire crews have been called to this site.

Last July, the same building, which was once Don's Frozen Food Locker, caught fire and required a two alarm response. It was the leftover junk from that day in July that fueled today's blaze.

Hannah O'Flaherty works at a nearby building and was around for both fires. She says she has been worried about the piles of debris for months now.

"It's been a huge community concern that they were going to set another fire and it's been a huge liability," explains O'Flaherty.

This morning O'Flaherty's concerns became a reality. While crews were working to remove some of the scrap metal with an oxyacetylene torch the surrounding debris caught fire.

Ray Flores, owner of El Charro, has a warehouse right next to the burning lot and was made uneasy when he saw the torches.

Flores says, "When I saw them a couple of days ago I thought they better be careful because there are a lot of combustibles there."

High winds helped fueled the blaze that not only threatened local businesses but also nearby power lines and train tracks. Barrett Baker, Captain for Tucson Fire Department, says the tracks were shut down for over an hour due to safety concerns with the heavy smoke.

"Between the three of those things no fire is ever a safe thing and it's just a matter of trying to eliminate those safety hazards one by one," explains Baker.

This call took 27 firefighters only 12 minutes to bring the fire under control. Their fast response left no one injured and likely saved some surrounding businesses.


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