Contributed Photo/Courtesy Chip Griffin-Mainly Productions: A wildland fire was deemed beneficial as it burned unwanted brush along the Gila River northwest of the Thatcher wastewater wetlands on Friday.
By Jon Johnson
THATCHER – A wildland fire burning along the Gila River northwest of Thatcher’s wastewater treatment wetlands sent a copious amount of black and brown smoke into the air that hovered over the Gila Valley on Thursday.
The fire was allowed to burn as it was deemed beneficial by clearing away unwanted brush along the riverbed, including the invasive non-native salt cedar species. Additionally, the fire had fire breaks of the river on one side and plowed fields on the other.
Chip Griffin of Mainly Productions saw the smoke and, like many others, believed it to be the annual control burn of the Thatcher wastewater reed system. Upon arrival, he noticed it was instead a wildland fire along the river and utilized one of his drones to take some aerial footage.
Thatcher Fire Chief Mike Payne said his department was allowing the fire to burn and would simply monitor it to make sure it didn’t go awry.
The fire appeared to have started in Hubbard Wash and then jumped a farm road to get to the brush. A farm tractor was seen leaving the area, but how the fire was started has not been verified although it is almost certainly human-caused.
As of this report, the fire appears to have mostly burned itself out but was still listed as being under observation.