CAVE CREEK (AP) — High winds caused a brush fire in a town north of Phoenix to nearly quadruple in size to 2.3 square miles and forced 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 Cave Creek, located 33 miles north of downtown Phoenix, were evacuated.
The fire started Sunday afternoon and had grown to about half a square mile by late evening.
Then, the winds picked up, causing fire to spread through a green space, into the desert, over a mountain and move toward neighborhoods, said Tiffany Davila, a spokeswoman for the Arizona Department of Forestry and Fire Management.
Similar conditions were expected Monday, with winds in the area forecast to reach up to 30 mph.
Another complicating factor was the density of vegetation, which had grown significantly thicker due to heavy rains last year, said Brent Fenton, a spokesman for Daisy Mountain Medical and Fire, which was the first agency to respond to the fire.
“Everything is pretty crispy out here,” said Davila.
As of Monday morning, crews had completed building 20% of the protection lines around the blaze in an attempt to contain the flames.
Airplanes were dropping retardant, and a helicopter was hitting the fire with water.
In addition to building containment lines, crews also were clearing away brush between homes and the fire.
The cause of the fire is under investigation.