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Wildcat Fire burns at least 100 acres in Tonto National Forest

The fire, which has caused a road closure, is burning in the desert near Horseshoe Reservoir. Here are the latest details.

RIO VERDE, Ariz. — A new wildfire has ignited in the Tonto National Forest, sending smoke into the skies in the East Valley and causing a road closure. 

The fire has also caused Bartlett Lake Road to close in both directions between Cave Creek Road and Horseshoe Dam Road.

The Wildcat Fire is burning in the desert about five miles north of the intersection of Dynamite Boulevard and 136th Street on the Cave Creek Ranger District near Rio Verde, according to the Tonto National Forest and the Southwest Coordination Center. 

The Tonto National Forest said the fire has burned about 100 acres. The Southwest Fire Coordination Center said it is being fought by four hotshot crews on the ground, three large air tankers, four very large air tankers and two helicopters. 

The Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office told 12News no structures are being threatened at this time. 

This is a developing story and more details will be added as they are made available.   

How to prevent wildfires 

With temperatures beginning to heat up, fires are likely to continue, but there are some ways that you can prevent them from starting. 

According to the Arizona Department of Forestry and Fire Management, some ways to prevent a wildfire from sparking include: 

  • Make sure a campfire is out by dousing it with water, stirring it and repeating until it is cool to the touch when you touch it with the back of your hand 
  • Refrain from using a chainsaw or welding equipment during windy or high fire danger days 
  • Use proper burn barrels when burning debris, never leave the fire unattended and make sure it is completely out before walking away. Also never burn on windy days. 
  • Don’t target shoot or use fireworks on state lands, as that is not allowed. 

Drivers can also help prevent wildfires with these tips: 

  • Do not throw cigarette butts out of a car window 
  • Check your tire pressure, as under-inflated tires can cause your wheel to touch a road or trail and cause sparks 
  • Never park or drive on dry grass or brush, as a hot engine can spark a fire 
  • Tighten trailer chains and other equipment so they don’t drag on the ground and cause sparks 
  • Check your brake pads because worn pads can also throw sparks due to metal-on-metal contact   

The ADFFM also has a mobile app that will alert users when a wildfire is in their area. The app can be downloaded in the Apple App Store or in the Google Play Store

And there are some ways to keep your home safe in case of wildfires, according to The National Fire Protection Agency. Those include: 

  • Make sure your roof and gutters are clear of dead leaves and debris that could catch fire 
  • Replace or repair any loose or missing shingles to prevent embers from getting inside your home 
  • Install 1/8 inch metal mesh screening to reduce embers that could pass through vents into eaves 
  • Clean debris from attic vents and install the 1/8 inch metal mesh on those vents as well 
  • Repair or replace damaged or loose window screens and any broken windows 
  • Screen or box-in areas below patios and decks with wire mesh to prevent debris and other flammable materials from getting in 
  • Move any flammable materials away from exterior walls, including mulch, plants, leaves and firewood piles 
  • Remove anything stored underneath decks or porches 

The NFPA also advises keeping lawns and native grasses mowed to a height of four inches or less, keeping at least eight feet of space between trees, along with having fire-resistant construction on your home, including fire-resistant roofing and siding. 

The NFPA also says to know and practice an emergency action plan with all of the occupants of your home in case of a wildfire, as that can save lives.    

Ready, Set, Go! Wildfire Evacuation 

If evacuations are required due to a wildfire, they will be issued using the ‘Ready, Set, Go’ method, according to the Arizona Emergency Information Network.  

If a ‘Ready’ alert is issued, that means you need to be aware of hazards that can threaten your community and make sure you have an emergency kit ready to go with enough supplies to last 72 hours.  

If a ‘Set’ alert is issued, that means that you should consider voluntarily evacuating to a shelter or go to family or friends who are outside of the evacuation zone. 

If a ‘Go’ alert is issued that means you need to evacuate immediately.  

You can learn more about the ‘Ready, Set, Go’ system by clicking here.  

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