UPDATED 9:38 AM PT — Tuesday, May 19, 2020
Hundreds of Arizona residents were evacuated after a wildfire erupted near the Tonto National Forest. The East Desert Fire started in Cave Creek on Sunday and has burned throughout the region due to hot weather as well as high winds up to 30 miles-per-hour.
“We don’t want to have the Cave Creek 19, you know, we don’t want a disaster like and that’s the kind of thing that can happen when you’ve got these conditions,” said Cave Creek Mayor Mayor Ernie Bunch. “It’s a dangerous situation for the firefighters and God bless them for the work that they do.”
The Maricopa Country Sheriff’s Office evacuated homes in the area as the blaze continued to grow.
“We’re doing everything we can to protect your property,” assured Tiffany Davila of the Arizona Department of Forestry and Fire Management. “We’ve got six hot-shot crews ordered to help, again, with structural protection…to help create that perimeter…we have 10 more additional engines and, of course, we’re using a lot of aircraft today.”
— Jaryd Bernstein (@Jburn6531) May 18, 2020
400 firefighters from surrounding areas teamed up to contain the inferno. Airplanes dropped fire retardant and helicopters dumped water to help fight the flames.
The fire was reportedly human-caused, but it’s not clear if it was done intentionally or if it was an accident.
“Our fire investigators were out there yesterday…they were taking photos, roped off the scene, so we will be getting a report hopefully within the next 24 to 48 hours as to what exactly started this fire,” said Davila.
The Red Cross created an emergency evacuation center for residents who have been forced out of their homes. The wildfire is expected to continue to burn over the next few days.
Tuesday AM UPDATE- Very minimal activity overnight. #EastDesertFire holding at 1,492 acres & 50% contained. Today’s winds will be problematic again w/gusts up to 30 mph. Crews continue to provide structure protection for nearby homes. Evacs still in place. #AZFire #AZForestry pic.twitter.com/xpPA9QVGTg
— AZ State Forestry (@azstateforestry) May 19, 2020