The City of Maricopa declared a state of emergency Thursday as a massive fire at a tire recycling plant sent up thick smoke that could be seen from across the East Valley.
Pinal County officials were also considering declaring their own emergency because of the fire, said state environmental quality spokesman Mark Shaffer.
Such a decision would pave the way for state money to be used in the fight.
As many as 200 firefighters kept the blaze to about three acres on the site of the Arizona Rubber Recycling center, where it began a little after 2 p.m.
City officials said the fire could burn and smolder for days.
No one was injured as of nighttime, but county and state health officials worried the thick smoke could make it tougher for some people to breathe.
For a short time, a shelter was set up at Maricopa High School for anyone who wanted to escape the smoke, but it was closed at 9 p.m. after the fire was brought under control.
The plant is also in a rural part of the city where water supply is low, said Maricopa spokeswoman Jennifer Grentz.
The city’s emergency declaration allowed it to tap extra water supplies and get help from Phoenix, Ak Chin and Gila River fire departments, she said.
Emergency crews also shut down part of Highway 238, one of the main lifelines into the city, which runs close to the plant.