Jon Johnson Photo/Gila Herald: A Thatcher Fire Department wildland firetruck inspects a wildland fire near the Gila River. The fire turned out to be a farmer’s controlled burn.
By Jon Johnson
THATCHER – The hazy smoke coming from near the Gila River in the Thatcher area Monday afternoon had plenty of people calling authorities concerned about the fire, but it turned out to be a farmer’s controlled burn.
After several calls to police, Graham County Dispatch, and the Thatcher Fire Chief, a wildland fire near the Gila River just east of 1st Avenue was confirmed as a controlled burn by a local farmer at about 2 p.m., Monday afternoon.
The farmer told Thatcher Fire Chief Mike Payne that the brush needed to burn and that the situation was under control. The farmer apparently hadn’t alerted Graham County Dispatch that he would be burning.
“It’s privately owned (and) it needs to burn,” the farmer said.
Payne determined that there were sufficient fire breaks to stop the fire’s advance and said he would just keep watch on it. He also advised the farmer to be wary of pump stations near the Smithville Canal Diversion Dam, so as to avoid damaging them.
The farmer acknowledged the stations and said he would continue to manage the fire appropriately.
Prior to confirming the wildland fire as a controlled burn, Thatcher Fire dispatched two trucks to the area and its wildland truck traveled near the blaze to investigate while the water tender was sent back to the station.
Payne said the firebreaks of the river, canal, and fallow fields to the south should be sufficient to keep the blaze in a controlled area, as long as the wind didn’t allow the fire to jump the river.
As of 2:30 p.m., the fire was still just under observation and had died down.
“We’re going to see what all they burn up,” Payne said.