Last week, a source who was front-and-center to at the wildfires raging in northern Arizona told New Times that the Department of Public Safety placed photo-radar cameras on an emergency road as response crews tried to battle the blaze.
The DPS, however, now says those claims are false.
We called the DPS prior to publishing our source's claims to get the department's side of the story but nobody got back to us until today -- more than a week after the story was published -- to deny the allegations.
"Your source is completely wrong," DPS spokesman Bart Graves tells New Times this morning.
Our source claimed that the DPS parked photo-radar vans along a stretch of Highway 89, which had been closed to everyone but emergency vehicles, the media, and a handful of residents who weren't forced to evacuate their homes.
Our source, who got to the high country on Sunday, said last week that the vans were put in place on Monday -- when the road already was closed for public use.
"That's what was so ridiculous -- they set up photo-radar on a road that was already shut down to almost everyone," the source said. "If [the vans] were there on Sunday, we didn't notice them."
The implication, of course, is that the DPS -- knowing full-well that emergency crews would be flying down that stretch of highway to battle the blaze -- set up the cameras to possibly spike the number of tickets it issued.
Graves, however, says it wasn't until the road was re-opened that the cameras were put in place and they were only set up because the highway in question is notorious for having speeders.
We're not sure who to believe in this tangled web of truth but one thing is for sure: we won't be shedding any tears when we bid photo-radar adieu later this month.
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