BISBEE — A blaze that threatened the Brewery Gulch area of Old Bisbee late Thursday afternoon is suspicious in nature, officials said, and remains under investigation.
The fire, named ZacAttack, which erupted in Zacatecas Canyon north of Brewery Gulch just after 5 p.m., was racing south into Old Bisbee and several people were evacuated from their residences, said the Cochise County Sheriff’s Office and the Bisbee Fire Department.
The fire was contained to 30 acres. The Bisbee Fire Department, the Bisbee Police Department, the Arizona State Land Department, Bureau of Land Management, Douglas prison Hot Shots and tankers that dropped fire retardant kept it from spreading down into the canyon to 30 homes on the hill, said Bisbee Mayor Ken Budge.
A Bisbee Police dispatcher said late Thursday that anyone living north of the Mimosa Market along Brewery Gulch was forced to evacuate.
Bisbee Fire spokesman Robert Cline said Friday than an individual was detained near the scene of the inferno but was later released. Cline said there was no evidence of any campers or homeless people staying in the canyon and starting the fire.
No structures were damaged and no one was injured in the blaze, Cline said.
Budge said the firefighters worked from 7 p.m. to midnight establishing a ring around the fire so it could not spread.
“When they came down from the mountain, it was like watching fireflies,” Budge said. “We were lucky. We didn’t have high winds. Things could have been different.”
The Arizona Department of Forestry and Fire Management’s Twitter page on Friday said, “Crews were able to stop forward progress on #ZacAttackFire near #Bisbee early this morning. Est. 30 acres. All evacuations have been lifted. Firefighters will continue working throughout the day securing line. #AZFire #CochiseCounty.
Sheriff’s spokeswoman Carol Capas said Friday afternoon crews were on scene and getting ready to begin their “mop-up stage.” She said residents were allowed to return to their properties at about 1 a.m. Friday.
City Manager Steve Pauken, who visited the site Friday morning, noted the area where the fire started was pretty inaccessible.
“The crews are mopping up this morning making sure there are no hot spots,” Pauken said. “There was no smoke rising. The fire came within two football fields of two structures. They did well handling the fire. We’re all good today. I hope this will make people aware of the dangers that exist around Old Bisbee.”
Old Bisbee Firewise, an organization of volunteers seeking to make Old Bisbee safer from fires, has been working to cut the wildland interface surrounding Old Bisbee for more than a year by removing dead debris, dried brush and lower limbs of trees in the hills.
Old Bisbee is at significant risk of wildland fire due to the vast area of the surrounding hills where private property butts up against extensive state and federal lands. OBFW helps people learn how to protect their homes through clearing property of fire fuels.
For ways to secure homes and businesses from wildland fires, visit the website: https://www.oldbisbeefirewise.org/.
Investigators are asking that anyone with information regarding the fire please call the Sheriff’s Office, 520-432-9502.