CAMP VERDE, Arizona — The reason for the brush fire near Camp Verde was likely a dragging chain. The brush fire shut down Interstate 17 for hours on Tuesday, Prescott National Forest officials said.
The fire originally started as several brush fires, including the 3-acre Pinto Fire and the 5-acre Copper Fire, just before 2 p.m.
The flames were close to the I-17, and the Arizona Department of Transportation shut down both directions of traffic for hours. They had to do this for safety reasons. Needless to say, it definitely messed up traffic in the area for hours.
The freeway was closed between State Route 260 and State Route 169.
Multiple Brush Fires Became One Big Arizona Fire
The fires eventually burned into one fire, called the Cooper Fire, which has burned 106 acres. As of now, firefighters are still working to contain the flames. However, fires are not tamable creatures. They have minds of their own, making it extremely hard to tame them to any reasonable degree.
Drivers had only two options, take a long detour, or wait out the closure. “My home’s that way so I’ve gotta wait because they’ve closed all the dirt roads,” said Shawn Berliew. For people in rural areas like Berliew, these fires can be even more devastating than for the general populace.
Berliew bumped into his father Gene at the closure, who was on his way home from work.
Some wondered if they would have to spend the night in their cars. After hours of waiting, the authorities finally began to reopen the roads in the area. The people then left the place and were able to reach their homes safely and away from the blaze.
Both directions were partially reopened by 8 p.m. The authorities fully reopened the freeway at around 9:45 p.m.