By TARA ALATORRE
SUNSET POINT – A brush fire that ignited along the Interstate 17 near Sunset Point at approximately 10:30 a.m. on August 16, caused lane closures, massive traffic and nearly destroyed a popular, unofficial landmark.
While firefighters battled the fire, lanes in both directions of the highway were shut down at milepost 255, which is north of Sunset Point, and caused miles of delays in both directions. About 30 minutes later the lanes reopened but traffic was still extremely slow going for commuters, according to the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT).
The fire was burning in the median area of the highway, and flames threatened the infamous I-17 Christmas Tree known as “Scrubby,” but crews from Daisy Mountain Fire and Medical (DMFM) were able to save it.
The special tree is loved by locals and visitors alike, because every year someone mysteriously decorates the tree with Christmas ornaments about a week after Thanksgiving. Looking for Scrubby during the holiday season has now become a tradition for many.
“Crews were able to save the Mystery Christmas Tree on I-17 from going up in flames in this morning’s brush fire,” DMFM posted on its Facebook on the afternoon of August 16. “Strong work!”
The community has sent DMFM an outpouring of support on social media, with over 150 comments of gratitude posted on the Facebook photo showing DMFM’s crew standing by the saved tree. The photo has also been shared over 800 times (at the time this was written).