Mountain Fire

Mountain Fire still burning in near Cave Creek, 55 percent contained

By TARA ALATORRE

TONTO NATIONAL FOREST – A wildfire that sparked on June 7, approximately eight miles east of the Tonto National Forest Cave Creek Ranger Station continues to burn. The Mountain Fire has scorched almost 7,500 acres with firefighters able to contain 55 percent of the blaze’s perimeter at the time this was written.

Officials announced that the Mountain Fire was human caused and still under investigation. The wildfire grew quickly due to gusty winds and plentiful fuel from dry desert grass and brush, but minimal growth has occurred since June 9.

The Mountain Fire burning near Bartlett Lake. The Bartlett Lake Dam Road and recreation has reopened along with Horseshoe Lake recreation area.
(Photo courtesy of the U.S. Forest Service)

“The Mountain Fire was in lower elevation Sonoran Desert and the fire was carried by a carpet of dried grass, driven by winds.  Once the winds died down, firefighters in the air and on the ground were able to make good progress,” U.S. Forest Service Public Affairs Officer Carrie Templin stated in an email to The Foothills Focus.

With U.S. Forest Service (USFS) crews making good progress, many firefighters are being moved to other fires burning around the state. Bartlett Dam Road reopened along with the Bartlett Lake recreation area and the Horseshoe Lake recreation areas, according to Templin.

“Please be careful driving along the Bartlett Dam and Horseshoe Dam roads and we ask that you don’t stop along the roadway, or walk around in the burned areas,” stated the incident web information system for USFS.

There may also still be smoke visible to residents in the area throughout the day due to interior pockets of fuel igniting.

Firefighters dropping buckets of water on the Mountain Fire earlier this week. It is now 55 percent contained.

As of June 11, there were 55 personnel on scene at the Mountain Fire, with two crews and two engines assigned to monitor and patrol the fire’s edge.

Firefighters biggest weather concern at the time this was written was the excessive heat warning issued this week in the area. Temperatures are expected to spike over 110 Fahrenheit on Wednesday and Thursday, according to the National Weather Service.

Although Rural Metro Fire Department (RMFD) in Cave Creek was not assigned to the Mountain Fire besides the original dispatch, the station served as a donation center, collecting donated goods from the community.

“We received hundreds of bottles of water, Gatorade and packages of snacks,” Shawn Gilleland, the public information officer for RMFD said, while expressing immense gratitude to the community.

The area in yellow shows the area Mountain Fire has burned. For up to date information about the Mountain Fire and other wildfires in the state visit https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/

Gilleland explained that RMFD did not have to ask for donations because it received an outpouring of support from locals that reached out wanting to help crews fighting the blaze on the fringes of their towns.

“All the supplies have been delivered to restock in preparation for the coming fire season,” he said.

Fire officials expect a busy fire season with the exceptionally wet spring that brought a superbloom to Arizona, which has now dried up and essentially turned into wildfire tinder.

An aerial view of the Mountain Fire shows Horseshoe Lake Road in the background.

“We can not stress enough the importance of being fire wise during these times of increased fire danger,” Gilleland said.

RMFD has responded to six brush fires in the Cave Creek and Carefree area and another five fires in the Rio Verde/Scottsdale corridor this season.

Firefighters have these tips for residents:

  • Create a defensible space around your home that is 30-feet or more.
  • Exercise extreme caution when using fire, BBQ grills, fireworks, welding, grinding and burning weeds.
  • Never toss out smoking materials
  • Remember, one spark is all it takes

RMFD is also reminding Cave Creek residents to become or renew their membership with the fire department, which directly support the firefighting operations in their community. Subscriptions covers properties for homes and vacant land.

For more information visit RuralMetroFire.com or call 480-627-6200. For more information about the Mountain Fire or other wildfires burning visit https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/.