Most Viewed Stories
Wildfire flares up along Colorado River
Dark smoke hovered over Yuma Friday afternoon as firefighters worked to contain a "human-caused" wildfire started the evening before on federal land along the Colorado River.
As of 2:30 p.m. Friday, the fire was about 25 percent contained on the south side of the river, just west of the West Wetlands, said Lori Cook, spokeswoman for the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, adding that firefighting efforts might continue into the night.
"You are still going to see some flames and lots of smoke during the day because of the heat," Cook said Friday afternoon. "The weather is going to make for intense fire behavior. This is the time that if the fire is going to burn, it's going to burn."
Cook said Friday's weather conditions were not favorable to firefighters. Westerly winds of 5-15 mph were forecast, with temperatures ranging from 84 to 91 degrees and humidity of 7-13 percent.
"Wind, high temperatures and low humidity all make it more difficult to fight fire."
Cook said that while flames from the fire and smoke were visible Friday, the fire remained within the original burn area.
As of about 10:45 a.m. Friday, the fire had burned approximately 70 acres along the south side of the river, Cook said.
"We're hoping to keep it there," she said.
There were fire breaks around the west, east and south perimeters of the fire.
"The only problem we foresee is if the wind picks up and the fire jumps the river to the north side."
The fire was burning salt cedar and arrowweed, producing the heavy black smoke, she said. Some cottonwood trees and other native vegetation also burned, resulting in the loss of bird habitat.
There are no structures or transient camps in the area, Cook said, adding that the fire was not an immediate threat to the city of Yuma's West Wetlands park.
Cook said the area where fire started is a popular recreation area and is believed to be human-caused, though exact cause had not been determined Friday.
"This is a wake-up call that people need to be careful when they're out recreating," she said.
People should make sure campfires are completely out before they leave the area. If they smoke, they need to make sure to do so well away from vegetation, she said.
"One little cigarette butt could start a fire like this."
Anyone with information about the cause of the fire is asked to call the BLM office at 317-3200 and ask to speak to a law enforcement officer.
The fire was reported about 6 p.m. Thursday evening in the Paradise Cove area along the river, said Cook. BLM fire crews responded, assisted by Rural/Metro Fire Department.
It died down overnight but picked up again this morning when the sun came up, Cook said. As of early Friday morning, BLM had 40 people at the scene fighting the fire, including a 20-person hand crew, two fire boats and a bulldozer. An engine and water tender from Rural/Metro also were at the scene.
Two more hand crews are coming from eastern Arizona and another engine from Mesa to help fight the fire, said Cook.
"We'll have substantially more resources by the end of the day."