Phoenix fire prompts 'largest response' in fire department's history

Massive fire in Phoenix prompts 'largest response' in local fire department's history

PHOENIX — A massive fire that prompted the "largest response" in the history of the Phoenix Fire Department burned multiple recycling yards and commercial structures Saturday in west Phoenix, threatening nearby homes and filling the sky with clouds of smoke and flames.

The fire started at about 12:30 p.m. Saturday as a first-alarm fire at a recycling yard, said Phoenix Fire Department spokesman Capt. Todd Keller.

At about 3:30 p.m., the fire was upgraded to a Type 1 fire and had reached five commercial structures along with multiple recycling yards, officials said.

About 200 firefighters between 10 agencies were working on the fire Saturday afternoon. Roughly 800 customers were also impacted by a power outage in the area of the fire, according to an Arizona Public Service electric outage map. 

One firefighter was hospitalized in stable condition with a lower extremity injury, Keller said. He did not have further details about the injury.

Authorities at the scene were concerned that if the wind shifted, the fire could spread to homes. Phoenix police officers were on scene evacuating residents in the area.

Keller also said businesses in the area were evacuated Saturday afternoon. 

Fire crews were using ladders to reach the fire, Keller said. “We are in a defensive posture, which means we're going to use our ladder pipes to hit the fire from an elevated position,” Keller said.

He also said Phoenix fire officials were evaluating the environmental impacts of the fire Saturday afternoon. 

Area residents and spectators from across the Valley stood on nearby streets to watch.

Alicia Sylvester, 20, a Phoenix resident and Arizona State University student, said she stopped at the scene of the fire for about 20 minutes after seeing how close the fire was to her workplace, a nearby warehouse. 

"We all got kind of worried, so we pulled off to the side and were asking people, 'Oh what's going on?'" she told The Arizona Republic, part of the USA TODAY Network. 

She said she noticed about 30 parked cars from people pulling over to learn more about the fire.

“There was just a bunch of people from the neighboring areas gathering and just trying to figure out what to do," she said. 

Keller said the fire was 0% contained Saturday afternoon. The cause of the fire will be determined after firefighters have control over the fire, according to Keller. 

Follow Audrey Jensen on Twitter: @Audreyj101.