A five- to six-acre brush fire broke out on Oak Creek Ranch School property at approximately 12:30 p.m. on Wednesday, May 5, garnering response from three Verde Valley emergency response agencies as well as13 firefighters from the U.S. Forest Service.
According to Verde Valley Fire District Assistant Chief and incident commander Mike Flummer, the fire resulted from a class project being conducted at the edge of the treeline on school property and quickly spread across the woods to threaten other structures on neighbors' properties.
One storage shed belonging to a neighbor was lost in the fire.
Oak Creek Ranch School owner David Wick said science teacher Chris Sindt and five students formed a bucket brigade using water from Oak Creek and a swimming pool to stop the fire from reaching the same neighbor's home.
Wick said the students and teacher kept the fire from getting more than 20 feet from the neighbor's house. "They were organized, no one did anything dangerous, and they probably saved that house," said Wick.
Flummer said a change in the wind direction also likely played a big role in keeping the house from burning.
The wind carried sparks and hot ash which started spot fires in different directions from the start of the original burn. At times, it was difficult to discern the falling ash from the cottonwood pollen floating through the air.
Firefighters from Verde Valley Fire District, Cottonwood Fire Department and Sedona Fire District worked the mop-up on the fire, which they expect to continue burning in the thick cottonwood trees for several days.
Named the "School Fire" by Flummer, it is the biggest brush fire of the 2010 season, which began approximately two weeks ago.
A U.S. Forest Service sawyer looks up to monitor progress on a tree being cut down to mop-up damage caused by a five to six acre brush fire at Oak Creek Ranch School in Cornville on Wednesday, May 5.
Firefighters lug hose across the unfinished roof of a structure on a neighbor's property adjacent to Oak Creek Ranch School in Cornville on Wednesday, May 5. The five to six acre brush fire was caused by a class project being conducted at the edge of the treeline on school property.
Spots still blaze approximately two and a half hours after the first 911 call went out for a five to six acre brush fire at Oak Creek Ranch School on Wednesday, May 5. Three Verde Valley fire agencies and a 13-person crew from the U.S. Forest Service responded to the midday fire which threatened both school structures and neighboring homes.
A firefighter works behind a shimmering wall of heat to monitor and extinguish burning spot fires after a five to six acre brush fire broke out at approximately 12:30 p.m. at Oak Creek Ranch School in Cornville on Wednesday, May 5.
A Sedona Fire District firefighter puts out spot fires near Oak Creek Ranch School buildings in the mid-afternoon Wednesday, May 5. The five- to six-acre brush fire was caused by a class project being conducted at the edge of the treeline on school property according to Verde Valley Fire District Assistant Chief and incident commander Mike Flummer.
Firefighters from the U.S. Forest Service, Verde Valley Fire District, Sedona Fire District, and Cottonwood Fire Department work at mopping up an afternoon brush fire at Oak Creek Ranch School on Wednesday, May 5. The fire quickly spread off the school's property and threatened structures on neighboring property on the windy afternoon. Thirty firefighters responded to the incident.