Yavapai County Sheriff's Office
Unauthorized burning on ranchland Causes Major Fire - Ranch owner Cited
On June 16, 2017, at approximately 11:45 AM, YCSO deputies were notified by Congress Fire District personnel about a fire on Hillside Road (Route 62) at Thompson Ranch, Hillside, Arizona. This land is north/east of Congress, Arizona. Deputies could see a large cloud of smoke coming from the area. The first deputy arrived at Thompson Ranch around 11:54 AM. At that time, the fire was just off the roadway consuming a large grass field on the ranch. The smoke was making it hard to see the road and DPS officers were called to assist with traffic control at Highway 89. The owner, 82-year-old James Thompson, confirmed that he was the only one present on the property. Deputies saw that two sheds were fully engulfed and at least one vehicle was on fire as well.
Thompson told deputies he was burning trash in a barrel and decided he should have a bucket of water nearby in case of fire. He left the area and went to get a water bucket. When he came back, the field had caught fire. In the meantime, deputies notified dispatch of a large lake adjacent to the property that could be used by helicopters to fill buckets. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) hotshots arrived on scene around 12:15 PM, took over incident command. The fire was spreading towards a nearby ranch and those residents were warned of the danger. Additionally, the fire was adjacent to railroad tracks so BNSF was notified and held all railroad traffic for hours until the fire was extinguished.
A water dropping helicopter arrived just before 12:30 PM and began making rounds with a bucket between the lake and the fire. Another helicopter arrived to assist and both dumped water on the fire for several hours. Around 1 PM, with the fire seemingly under control, it jumped Hillside Road and began to burn an open field. Fortunately, this fire was extinguished shortly thereafter and all suppression efforts returned to the ranch.
Thompson was asked if he knew there was a county-wide burn ban in place and he stated he was not aware of it. Deputies noted there had been a large digital sign posted on HWY 89 in Congress indicating a county-wide burn ban in place. Thompson also admitted his grass was too high and needed trimming as it was a hazard. Deputies noted there is a county transfer station approximately 8 miles from his ranch.
Thompson was given a criminal citation for Reckless Burning (violation of ARS 13-1702.A).
Fire personnel continued working the fire until after 8 PM that evening.
PLEASE OBEY THE FIRE RESTRICTIONS IN YAVAPAI COUNTY!
Citizens can contact the Yavapai County Sheriff's Office with information or questions at 928-771-3260