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East Desert Fire Near Cave Creek 70% Contained

By Bridget Dowd, Greg Hahne
Associated Press
Published: Monday, May 18, 2020 - 9:17am
Updated: Wednesday, May 20, 2020 - 9:26am

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East Desert Fire
The human-caused East Desert Fire started May 17, 2020, afternoon near 24th Street and Desert Hills Road.

May 19

Firefighters were able to contain about 70% of the East Desert Fire near Cave Creek by Tuesday afternoon. That's up from about 20% on Monday.

The fire is holding steady at approximately 1,500.

Tiffany Davila with the Arizona Department of Forestry and Fire Management says there have been about 130 homes evacuated, but none have burned.

“We were very fortunate that we didn’t lose one home especially when we had the fire the wind event Sunday evening that pushed the fire up the hill and down the backside to the community. But no we were fortunate we did not lose one primary structure.”

The fire, which is under investigation and believed to be human-caused, started Sunday in the community located 33 miles north of downtown Phoenix.

Winds picked up, causing fire to spread through a green space, into the desert, over a mountain and toward neighborhoods.

Arizona Department of Forestry and Fire Management officials said if crews continue to have the upper hand, evacuation orders should be lifted Tuesday evening and about 250 people could return home.

May 18

A human-caused brush fire burning near Cave Creek led to the evacuation of more than 100 homes Sunday night.

The East Desert Fire has grown from about 0.6 square miles to 2.3 square miles.

High winds and dry conditions caused the blaze to spread quickly through the desert hills north of Phoenix. 

The fire started Sunday afternoon and was about 40% contained around 8 p.m. but dropped to 20% by midnight.

Tiffany Davila is with the Arizona Department of Forestry and Fire Management. She said more resources are on the way.

“We’ve ordered more hand crews, more hotshot crews, more engines and then we increased our aviation resources for this morning, Davila said. "So by end of day [Monday] we should have about 400 firefighters assigned to this fire.”

Davila said some evacuated residents are getting help from the Red Cross. The fire’s exact cause is still under investigation.