East Desert Wildfire

East Desert Wildfire, 2020

Last year, multiple wildfires impacted Cave Creek and the surrounding area, including the East Desert Wildland Fire, which started on May 17 and burned for several days. The fire impacted nearly 1,500 acres of the Sonoran Desert community and threated numerous structures. This year, on the one-year anniversary of that fire, two significant things happened.

Residential Community Takes Action

Whispering Hills Becomes Firewise Community

Whispering Hills becomes a Firewise Community

The Whispering Hills residential community at 36th Street and Carefree Highway came together shortly after the fires last year and took action to help protect their homes and investments. On May 19, Whispering Hillswas officially recognized by the Arizona Department of Forestry and Fire Management and the National Fire Protection Association as a certified Firewise/USA Community, the first within Cave Creek town limits.

This is a voluntary prevention program designed for individual communities that are located within Wildland Urban Interface areas. The program allows individual developments to evaluate and put into place methods that will address important issues like establishing “defensible space,” managing the plant and fuel loads close to the properties, removing invasive weeds/flash fuels and addressing access and escape routes.

The Area is Vulnerable for Major Incidents

May 20, 2021 Fire Near Cave Creek Jurisdiciton

The May 20, 2021 fire near Cave Creek jurisdiction

The second event of note occurred early on the morning of May 20. Another wildland fire started on the northern edge of the town. The Town shared that the fire started at a construction site and began extending into the foothills of the northern mountain range. Luckily, fire crews were able to quickly respond and rapidly get this wildland incident under control, holding it to approximately one acre.

After the incident, Deputy Fire Chief Jim Ford shared that, “If additional common factors like higher temperatures, or if there were higher wind conditions, the outcome might not have been nearly as positive.”

Ford, currently “on loan” to the Town of Cave Creek from the City of Scottsdale, continued, “The community very easily could have experienced a repeat of what happened last May. The fire incident this morning, once again highlights how vulnerable this area is for major incidents and how quickly a wildland fire can start and spread.”

Little Things Can Have a Major Impact

Defensible Space

Creating defensible space can make a difference.

The Town of Cave Creek is currently under Stage-Two Fire Restrictions, which require any town construction site to pull a permit and have a pre-inspection of the site before any activities take place that could result in producing sparks. This includes grinding, welding, metal/rebar cutting or anything that could ignite flash fuels, which are abundant in the area.

Additional Stage-Two restrictions relate to fireworks, open flame devices, charcoal and campfires. Residents can check the Town’s website for a comprehensive list of restrictions as well as safety measures they can take.

“Our local community and regional fire resources need your help to prevent, identify and/or control fire incidents,” shared Ford. “Often even the little things you do can have a major impact. Remember, it can and still does happen right here in our own back yard.”

Find more information about fire safety at cavecreekaz.gov/firesafety. |CST

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