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Fire danger: Keeping your home safe during brush fire season


Elizabeth Medora

CAREFREE – A family in Carefree woke up at 3 a.m. on June 23 to Rural/Metro fire crews putting out a brush fire near their home in Ridgeview Estates. The family praised the quick, thorough work of the local fire department in protecting their home and the surrounding structures and getting the fire put out without any damage or injuries.

This recent small fire didn’t have time to cause damage thanks to the fire department’s quick reaction; however, this fire serves as a reminder of the constant danger of brush fires.

“It is the brush fire season,” said Colin Williams, public information officer for the Rural/Metro Fire Department in Central Arizona, which services Carefree and Cave Creek. Williams noted that the fire danger has been lessened by this year’s increased rainfall but that residents “shouldn’t be complacent” about wildfire danger.

Homes with piles of dead bush and weeds or dead trees nearby are at risk for fire. If a fire starts on that property, it can be difficult or even impossible for firefighters to save the structure, making it vital to do yard work and keep property free of debris.

Williams strongly recommends that residents have 30 feet of “defensible space” around their property, created by clearing out dead brush, weeds, and non-native vegetation.

“Walk around your property and identify what could burn and what could make a fire spread to your house,” Williams emphasized. In areas that the homeowner doesn’t own all the space surrounding their home, Williams recommends calling the county and letting them know that brush cleanup is needed.

The cause of the June 23 fire has not been determined. Accidental fires can be caused in a multitude of ways, such as cigarettes not put out properly, campfires/fire pits not put out properly, and even equipment or vehicles that overheat and/or spark. Call 911 immediately if you think a brush fire may have been started nearby.

This holiday weekend, people celebrating Independence Day with fireworks and sparklers need to use caution to avoid sparking a fire. Anyone igniting fireworks should have a garden hose on hand to put out any sparks, only light one device at a time, and keep children from playing with or igniting fireworks. See more safety information from the Consumer Product Safety Commission at


The United States Consumer Product Safety Commission offers safety tips when using fireworks:

Never allow young children to play with or ignite fireworks.
Avoid buying fireworks that are packaged in brown paper because this is often a sign that the fireworks were made for professional displays and that they could pose a danger to consumers.
Always have an adult supervise fireworks activities. Parents don't realize that young children suffer injuries from sparklers. Sparklers burn at temperatures of about 2,000 degrees – hot enough to melt some metals.
Never place any part of your body directly over a fireworks device when lighting the fuse. Back up to a safe distance immediately after lighting fireworks.
Never try to re-light or pick up fireworks that have not ignited fully.
Never point or throw fireworks at another person.
Keep a bucket of water or a garden hose handy in case of fire or other mishap.
Light fireworks one at a time, then move back quickly.
Never carry fireworks in a pocket or shoot them off in metal or glass containers.
After fireworks complete their burning, douse the spent device with plenty of water from a bucket or hose before discarding it to prevent a trash fire.
Make sure fireworks are legal in your area before buying or using them.

Source: United States Consumer Product Safety Commission