The history of Hellsgate Fire begins with the merger of the Diamond Star and Tonto Village Fire Districts. These two Districts came together in an effort to improve services for both areas. The eventual merge took place in February 2008. The two combined fire districts cover 1 town and 12 unincorporated communities located in Gila County with an approximate population of 4,617. They are the Town of Star Valley, Little Green Valley, Bear Flats, Tonto Village, Thompson Draw I, Thompson Draw II, Zane Grey Meadows, Meads/Collins Ranch, Ellison Creek Summer Homes, Diamond Point Summer Homes, Ellison Creek Estates, La Cienega Ranch and the newly added Fox Farm.
Today the district covers approximately 35 square miles operating out of 3 stations. HFD staffing has gone up and down since the merger and as of 2020 we have 8 full time employees. Our main station is located in Star Valley. Station 21 is a 24/7/365 staffed station. Station 22, located in Tonto Village, and Station 23, located in Meads/Collin Ranch, are operated by reserve firefighters.
In 2019 we ran over 500 calls with a majority of them being medical in nature. HFD staff is active in response under the State of Arizona Coop agreement to respond to wildland fires in the Nation. Our crews have fought fire or participated in wildfire mitigation in all the western states. These assignments are up and above our daily routine of protecting the district.
Hellsgate Fire Department has been managed by 4 Fire Chief's since forming. The first being Gary Hatch who served as Diamond Star Fire Department's chief prior to the merger. Hatch retired in 2014 after a 32 year career for the department. Our third chief, John Wisner, was given the position in March of 2017 and retired in October of 2020. Chief Wisner began his career with Diamond Star Fire in 1993 and retired after a 27 year career with the department.
Chief Morey Morris was hired in October of 2020. At the time of hire Chief Morris had been in the fire service for 32+ years. Along with many years working for training facilities and as a flight medic, Chief Morris worked most of his career with Phoenix Fire Department. Since 2012 he had been working with Gila River Fire Department. We are happy to welcome him to the district and look forward to his years of leading the department.