With the huge fire in a Phoenix recycling yard down to a few smoking hotspots Monday, the scale of the weekend blaze became clear. The Phoenix Fire Department mounted the largest response in its history, the Arizona Republic reports. At one point Saturday, the day the blaze started, more than 200 firefighters from 10 agencies were fighting it as huge clouds of smoke covered the region. One firefighter was injured and has been released from a hospital, and five structures were destroyed. And the National Weather Service reported the blaze could be seen from space and on its radar. "We do go on recycling fires," a fire department spokesman said, including ones at the same yard, but they're smaller. "This is our first time experiencing this," he said.
By Monday, per KTAR, crews were dealing with the last hotspots—compact cardboard and paper pallets still burning—and were about ready to turn the site over to the owners. The blaze had jumped from the recycling yard to a tire shop and a lumber yard, all packed with fuel for a fire. The environmental impact wasn't clear yet; the fire department spokesman said most of what burned was paper and cardboard. Those materials are closer to what burns in a forest, an expert said, and so less worrisome than hazardous materials that might be stored in such a place. "I'm quite sure that fuel loads in a recycling plant could be off the charts compared to a forest," he said, per the Washington Post, "which would explain why the fire behavior and heat output are so extreme." (Read more fire stories.)