Fires broke out behind the hills of Fleischer Park on Thursday night, while community members brought their Fourth of July festivities to an end with the annual fireworks display.
Two small fires, one on the northeast side of the park and the other near the soccer field, eventually joined to make one big fire, Nogales Fire Department spokeswoman Marcela Hammond on Friday afternoon.
The fireworks display “was not interrupted. We were able to finish the show, but the fires began toward the end of the display,” Hammond said, adding that no one was evacuated from the park.
“We had a total of 57 acres burned. Initially, we had some structures that were threatened by the proximity of the fire to the homes, but our crews worked extremely hard to avoid any structure losses,” Hammond said.
She added that NFD received assistance from other fire agencies in Patagonia, Tubac, Rio Rico, and Fry Fire from Sierra Vista. The U.S. Forest Service and Arizona Department of Corrections also sent crews to help, she said.
While the NFD crew kept an eye on the surrounding areas during the firework show, firefighters were able to see several illegal fireworks displays around the city.
“I’m not saying that that was the cause of the fires, but we had illegal aerial fireworks going on at the same time,” Hammond said, adding that they were seen around the Vista Del Cielo or Monte Carlo area. “They are illegal and extremely dangerous, especially during these drought conditions.”
Hammond urged the public to read and understand the law behind fireworks displays, adding that public notices are put up in places where pyrotechnic items are sold.
“I think it’s important that people understand that it’s not safe,” she said. “It endangers too many people, and the potential for greater loss is just enormous.”