Arizona fire season arrives months ahead of schedule

Posted: Updated:
By Tami Hoey By Tami Hoey

CAVE CREEK, Ariz. --  "Fire Danger" signs posted in Cave Creek, north of Phoenix, are already in red, for "High Danger."

Firefighters northeast of the Valley fought a fast-growing wildfire near Saguaro Lake Monday. They say it behaved like a fire they would normally see in May, not February.

"I was surprised about how hot it burned, how fast it moved, and how intense it was. It was like a freight train you can't stop.

Just keeps going and going. Fortunately the river was a natural break," Rural Metro Fire Public Information Officer Colin Williams said.

The flames jumped part of the Salt River in one spot, which is flowing at a much lower level than normal, also due to the drought. With fire season's arrival months ahead of schedule, firefighters say they have major concerns about the dead and dying brush surrounding communities in the Valley.

"There's a lot of fuel. A lot of this is similar to Yarnell," Williams said of the Cave Creek area, comparing it to the deadly fire which killed 19 Hotshot firefighters in 2013.

Linda Spurling, who's lived in Cave Creek for 20 years, says conditions are the worst she's ever seen. "People need to pay attention. It's just a matchstick," Spurling said, of the brush surrounding her neighbors' homes. "If somebody's catches fire, it's coming over to my house," she worries.

Firefighters say Monday's brush fire near Saguaro Lake was human-caused.