Brush fire north of Phoenix forces evacuation of 250 people

PHOENIX (AP) — High winds caused a brush fire in a town near Phoenix to nearly quadruple in size to more than 2 square miles (6 square kilometers) and force the evacuation of 132 homes, officials said Monday.

No homes have burned in Cave Creek, but the fire came within 100 yards of some houses. Many other evacuated homes were less than a mile from the blaze.

About 250 people in the community located 33 miles (53 kilometers) north of downtown Phoenix were evacuated.

The fire was about 20% contained and burning to the northwest of Cave Creek. Updated acreage and containment numbers were expected to be released later Monday.

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Authorities were wary of Tuesday’s forecast of 15-20 mph winds in the area with gusts up to 35 mph.

“We’re anticipating a lot of wind and that could drive the fire quite a bit,” said Paul Schickel, a spokesman for the Daisy Mountain Fire Department.

Authorities said about 400 personnel should be working the fire by Tuesday, including more aircraft and 10 extra engines as crews try to keep the fire from reaching Tonto National Forest.

In addition to building containment lines, crews were clearing brush while aircraft were dropping retardant and water.

The fire, which is under investigation and believed to be human-caused, started Sunday. Winds picked up, causing fire to spread through a green space, into the desert, over a mountain and toward neighborhoods, said Tiffany Davila, a spokeswoman for the Arizona Department of Forestry and Fire Management.

Another complicating factor was the density of vegetation, which had grown significantly thicker due to heavy rains last year.

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