Man given citation for burning without a permit

Jon Johnson File Photo/Gila Herald: A man was given a citation for burning without a permit after his fire got out of control and had to be extinguished by the SFD.

By Jon Johnson

GRAHAM COUNTY – A man attempting to clean brush was given a citation for burning without a permit Sunday, April 15, after his fire got out of control.

Volunteer Safford Fire Department (SFD) members were roused from their regular Sunday activities and were instead dispatched to a residence off W. Mike’s Place at about 4:05 p.m. to handle a wildland fire.

According to a Graham County Sheriff’s Office report, the resident, Frank Gutierrez, was burning willow weeds in a rock fire ring when a gust of wind spread the fire to other willow weeds outside of the ring on the ground. The fire then quickly spread to salt cedar and mesquite trees in the same area.

Upon arrival, the deputy noticed “very large flames” behind two residences in the area. However, the SFD managed to limit the fire to just the brush in the area and extinguished it without damage to any structures or other property.

Jon Johnson File Photo/Gila Herald: The Safford Fire Department is an all-volunteer department.

Safford Fire Chief Clark Bingham has previously stressed the importance of knowing the weather conditions prior to a burn and to keep at least 30 feet of cleared space between a residence and brush. 

The deputy learned Gutierrez did not have the required burn permit from the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) and had not notified Graham County Dispatch that he would be burning, both are requirements prior to lighting such a fire.

According to ADEQ, the burn permit is required by law to help protect the public from smoke impacts. Persons setting outdoor fires must obtain a permit from ADEQ or a delegated permitting authority. The two types of open burn permits issued in Arizona are normal and dangerous materials. To download an open burn permit from ADEQ click here.

Gutierrez was then given a citation for burning without a permit.