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West Valley mulch fire to be extinguished this week

PHOENIX — A massive mulch fire burning in the west Valley is nearly out, a fire official said Monday.

Rural Metro Fire Public Information Officer Colin Williams said he expects to see the fire extinguished in the next 24 hours after it has burned for more than a week.

“99 percent of this fire is out,” he said. “There is still just a very small residual amount of smoke.”

It started around 9 p.m. on Nov. 22 at a business just north of Luke Air Force Base at a mulch and firewood facility near Dysart Road and Butler Drive.

Williams said the fire was difficult to combat because some some of the piles of organic matter are between 15 and 20 feet deep.

“If you really think about it, this bio mass is not going into the landfill so choosing to do a green product is obviously something that’s good for the environment, if it’s done correctly,” he said. “I think everybody knows that this smoke was not good for the environment.”

The fire is also a huge economic blow. Williams said the property owner runs nearly all the farms in the area near Luke Air Force Base. The material had not yet been ground up and watered to begin the organic breakdown process.

“(It’s) three years worth of work and a tremendous financial loss for this company,” Williams said. “It has significant impact on the neighborhood.”

Williams said the property owner is devastated and in a state of shock.

“He’s most concerned about the firefighters and their abilities to stay save and keep this from spreading to other structures and other stockpiles on the property,” Williams said.

Maricopa County Sheriff’s deputies are investigating the cause of the fire. Williams said it is thought to be human-caused.

“Whether or not there were multiple points of origins, whether or not there was a history … all that will be uncovered by the sheriff’s office investigation,” he said.

KTAR’s Christina Estes and Julie Levin and the Associated Press contributed to this report.