Fire that shut down I-17 near Camp Verde likely started by dragg - Tucson News Now

Fire that shut down I-17 near Camp Verde likely started by dragging chain, officials say

(Source: 3TV/CBS 5) (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
(Source: 3TV/CBS 5) (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
(Source: 3TV/CBS 5) (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
(Source: U.S. Forest Service) (Source: U.S. Forest Service)
CAMP VERDE, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -

A dragging chain is likely what started a fire near Camp Verde that shut down Interstate 17 for hours on Tuesday, Prescott National Forest officials said.

The fire originally started as several brush fires, including the the 3-acre Pinto Fire and the 5-acre Copper Fire, just before 2 p.m.

The flames were so close to the I-17, the Arizona Department of Transportation needed to shut down both directions of traffic for hours. 

The freeway was closed between State Route 260 and State Route 169.

The fires eventually burned into one fire, called the Cooper Fire. It has burned 106 acres.

[SLIDESHOW: Brush fire shuts down I-17 Tuesday]

 Drivers had only  two options, take a long detour, or wait out the closure. 

"My home's that way so I've gotta wait because they've closed all the dirt roads," said Shawn Berliew. 

Berliew bumped into his father Gene at the closure, who was on his way home from work. 

"I wish somebody would bring hamburgers or something you know," said Gene. 

Some wondered if they would have to spend the night in their cars. Thankfully, that didn't happen.

Both directions were partially reopened by 8 p.m. The freeway was fully reopened around 9:45 p.m. 

ADOT advises drivers:
Pausing or parking a car or truck in tall grass or over shrubs can start fires. This not only may damage your vehicle but may also start a quickly moving fire. Do not park where vegetation is touching the underside of your vehicle.  Also be sure that all vehicles and tires are in excellent working order; safety chains or other trailer equipment must not drag or dangle; these can get hot or create sparks causing not just one but multiple wildfires. Look behind you as your driving to make sure all is well. It's always a good idea to carry a fire extinguisher. 

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