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Large fire burning near Loop 202 in Mesa

PHOENIX — A large fire was burning near the Loop 202 and McKellips Road in Mesa on Wednesday and will continue to do so through the weekend.

Mesa Fire Department spokesman Forrest Smith said the fire is burning over an
area the size of several football fields just off the Loop 202 freeway.

No injuries were reported, but the fire sent a large plume of black smoke into the Valley skies that was visible for miles.

Smith said the fire was consuming debris that had been dumped onto the roadside,
including old tires, tree stumps and wood chips, some piled up to 100 feet high.

Firefighters were working to keep the blaze away from the freeway
Wednesday afternoon as traffic slowed due to the thick smoke. About 60 tons of water were used on the blaze, but by Thursday it was deiced to let it burn itself out.

“It’s going to go for days. A fire like this being so green, so thick, so dense, it’s just going to need time,” Smith said.

“We want to let this free burn as much as we can where we can get oxygen into it, and let the fire do its thing and reduce all the material.”

Traffic cameras showed a backup on McKellips north of Loop 202. Several people appeared to have stopped along the shoulder to take photos or video.

As a result of the fire, the Arizona Department of Transportation closed both the westbound on-ramp to the Loop 202 at McKellips Road and the eastbound exit at McKellips. All ramp restrictions were lifted at 5:40 p.m.

KTAR’s Martha Maurer and the Associated Press contributed to this report.