No Air quality issues detected after mulch fire burns in east Mesa

ADEQ joined First Alert Meteorologist April Warnecke to discuss the poor quality impacting the Valley of the Sun.
Published: May. 31, 2023 at 9:50 AM MST|Updated: Jun. 1, 2023 at 8:05 AM MST
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MESA, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) If you saw a plume of smoke all day Wednesday in Mesa, it was a mulch fire that started in the morning and was finally brought under control around midnight. The fire at CTS Greenways Recycling on Sossaman Road near the Loop 202 began around 9 a.m. and while Rural Metro Fire confirmed the fire has been contained, it could smolder for days. Investigators believe spontaneous combustion sparked the flames.

Matt Pace, a meteorologist at the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality joined Good Morning Arizona to discuss air quality concerns around the Valley. He says it’s not uncommon to see smoky skies like this linger around. “Some of that smoke does loop back down, and make it to the ground.” Still, the department notes that air quality shouldn’t be much of a concern for Maricopa County residents.

All of our air monitors and even our purple air sensors are actually showing values below the federal health standards,” Pace said. “It may look bad, but air quality is actually not bad outside”

Arizona’s Family reporter Sarah Robinson spoke with one woman with valuables at a nearby storage facility.

Happy Wife storage and RV back up to the facility. “You said you tried to get in. How bad was the smoke?” asked Robinson. “It filled up the truck. It was so bad,” said Pamela Rist, who has her RV and food truck stowed at the storage facility. “It’s probably $75,000 that’s in it. The RV is probably the same. If nothing else the trailer is going to have smoke damage.”

But what worries her is not the monetary value but the sentimental one. “Me and my daughter started the food truck business so we put our heart and soul into it. We’ve been raising money and getting it together. It’s been up and running since September. Everything we’ve got is in that food truck,” she said.

Matthew Garder stored his hand-built Cadillac at Happy Wife until Tuesday. “I told my wife, we’re getting ready to do some moving, and I said, ‘You know what, I’m gonna pull it out.’ I was gonna wait til today but just happened to pull it out one day earlier. I told my wife for years that I thought it would catch fire and I’ve always been afraid of that because it goes all the way around that side,” Gardner said.

Others like Joe Sitter are mainly worried about air quality. “It’s a lot of particulates and of course CO2. It’s a windy day, that stuff is spreading far and wide,” Sitter said. We did speak to a firefighter who told us these types of fires produce smoke that can be hazardous. So they’re encouraging people to avoid the area. Crews from Rural Metro, Mesa Fire and Medical, Gilbert Fire and Superstition Fire and Medical were all at the scene at one point.

It’s unclear how the fire started or how wide it spans. Shortly after 1 p.m., Maricopa County road crews closed Sossaman Road in both directions between Elliot and Warner roads.

The fire has been burning for well over an hour and black smoke can be seen off the Loop 202.

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