Evacuations ordered for the Ocotillo Fire near Cave Creek, AZ

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10 miles northeast of the greater Phoenix area

(UPDATED at 9:40 a.m. MDT May 31, 2020)

Glenn Chase of Tempe, AZ uses a backpack pump to mop up part of the Ocotillo Fire that burned through a residential area east of Spur Cross Road in Cave Creek, AZ. Mr. Chase came up to the fire to help family members evacuate horses and then went to work on the fire. Photo by Tom Story, May 30, 2020.

From the Incident Management Team assigned to the Ocotillo Fire near Cave Creek, Arizona, Sunday morning at 8:37:

There was no new growth reported on the Ocotillo Fire overnight and no new structure loss. There is a lot of heat within the interior and in drainages, therefore crews will monitor and patrol those areas to make sure there is no rekindling. Afternoon winds however, could challenge firefighters again, especially within those drainages.

Overnight, crews provided structure protection to homes and worked to build and secure fire line.

An estimated 500 residences were evacuated on Saturday and those evacuation orders remain in place.  An evacuation-area map has been uploaded to this site. The Red Cross has a shelter set up for impacted residents at Cactus Shadows High School. Livestock can be taken to the Cave Creek Memorial Arena.

Today, crews are faced again with hot temperatures, low relative humidity, afternoon winds, and other hazards, including above-ground and underground propane tanks and inaccessible roads.

177 personnel are assigned to the fire from statewide fire departments and districts, including local and federal cooperators.  The fire started Saturday afternoon off Ocotillo Road. At least ten structures were lost; unknown if they are primary or secondary or both. Once it is safe enough to do so, crews will make their way back into the area to assess damage.

The fire was determined to be human-caused and the source is under investigation.


(UPDATED at 7 p.m. MDT May 30, 2020)

Ocotillo Fire Cave Creek Arizona
A Phoenix Fire Department firefighter staffing Brush 23 cools down part of the Ocotillo Fire as the blaze burns near the intersection of Old Stage Road and Rockaway Hills Drive in Cave Creek, AZ 05/30/20. Photo by Tom Story.

Here is an updated map of the Ocotillo Fire northwest of Cave Creek, Arizona.

Map showing the approximate location of heat detected by a satellite on the Ocotillo Fire northwest of Cave Creek, AZ at 1:24 p.m. MDT May 30, 2020.
Map showing the approximate location of heat detected by a satellite on the Ocotillo Fire northwest of Cave Creek, AZ at 3:06 p.m. MDT May 30, 2020.

At 5:46 p.m. MDT Arizona State Forestry said in a tweet:

#OcotilloFire at 750 acres. Crews working against hot temps, very day conditions, wind gusts & low RH. In turn, fire is exhibiting signs of extreme fire behavior. ⁦@RedCrossAZ set up a shelter at high school. ⁦⁦@mcsoaz
⁩ will have evac info.

Ocotillo Fire Cave Creek Arizona
Tanker 15, a BAe-146 operated by Neptune Aviation, drops a load of fire retardant near homes as the Ocotillo Fire burns through part of Cave Creek, AZ 05/30/20. Photo by Tom Story.

This is a very impressive video of a DC-10 dropping on the fire:

We will update this article as more information becomes available.


(Originally published at 4:47 p.m. MDT May 30, 2020)

map Ocotillo Fire Cave Creek
Map showing the approximate location of heat detected by a satellite on the Ocotillo Fire northwest of Cave Creek, AZ at 1:24 p.m. MDT May 30, 2020.

The Marshall’s Office has issued a mandatory evacuation order for the Ocotillo Fire northwest of Cave Creek, Arizona.

Evacuation order for Ocotillo Fire
Evacuation order for Ocotillo Fire at approximately 3 p.m. MDT May 30, 2020.

Jim Cross, Senior News Reporter at KTAR Phoenix, reported that multiple homes have been damaged and others are threatened. At 2:43 p.m. MDT Saturday Arizona State Forestry said the fire had burned about 350 acres.

Firefighting aircraft that have been seen over the fire include air tankers (RJ85, BAe-146, and DC-10) and helicopters, some of which are obtaining water at a golf course.

Ocotillo Fire Cave Creek Arizona
Ocotillo Fire at 4:22 p.m. MDT May 30, 2020. Photo by @RiverH16
Ocotillo Fire northwest of Cave Creek map
Map showing aircraft maneuvering near the Ocotillo Fire northwest of Cave Creek, Arizona at 3:46 p.m. MDT May 30, 2020. Flightradar24 & Wildfire Today.

Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, he continues to learn, and strives to be a Student of Fire. Google+

3 thoughts on “Evacuations ordered for the Ocotillo Fire near Cave Creek, AZ”

  1. Great site but photos regularly show firefighters without PPE. Not good examples for readers. I hope the department shown recognizes the issues and use them as reminder s of the importance of webgear, hard hats, long pants, turn outs….

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