Evacuations lifted in Scottsdale; Diamond Fire 60% contained
SCOTTSDALE, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) — It was welcomed news on Wednesday night when Scottsdale homeowners learned they could go back to their homes as crews battle the Diamond Fire. As of 7 p.m., evacuations were lifted for more than 1,000 people. Residents were urged to use caution when going back to their homes due to firefighters still in the area.
The announcement comes as firefighters gained progress on Wednesday against the Diamond Fire. Arizona Department of Forestry and Fire Management’s Tiffany Davila told Arizona’s Family the acreage dropped to 1,960 because of better mapping. It was reported earlier in the day it could have been up to 3,000 acres. Firefighters got a line around the fire and Davila said the wildfire is 60% contained.
Thursday morning, Arizona State Forestry said the fire stayed within its footprint overnight, but warned that hot, dry and breezy conditions could once again stir up activity during the afternoon hours. Firefighters will remain in the area to patrol the situation.
Davila and Scottsdale firefighters confirmed the Diamond Fire is caused by humans. However, it’s unclear how it was started or what evidence there is to show somebody started it. There hasn’t been any movement on the fire, Davila added. Despite the gains against the flames, no evacuations have been lifted.
Davila said earlier on Wednesday that a hotshot crew was able to get a line around the entire fire. “As temperatures heat up this morning, we may see flare-ups within the fire,” Davila said. “There are still some pockets of fuel that have to burn, so people in this area may see flames or may see smoke.”
The McDowell Mountain Regional Park remained closed on Wednesday. The agency has also been told by law enforcement that people continue entering areas of the closed park. “We shouldn’t have to tell you this is dangerous especially if we need to order heavy aircraft,” the forestry service said in a tweet early Wednesday afternoon.
On Tuesday, the state submitted a request for a Fire Management Assistance Grant (FMAG) and late Wednesday morning, those federal funds were authorized for use by FEMA. FMAGs provide federal funding for up to 75% of firefighting costs, including equipment, supplies, field camps and more.
The Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office is also monitoring the area to minimize the traffic passing through the region for the safety of fire officials and residents. One secondary structure has been destroyed. Around 300 fire officials are working in the region.
Davila added that anyone attempting to fly drones over the fire is asked to stop since all aircraft, including air tankers, would have to be grounded if a drone is spotted in the area. “Please, no photo or video is worth somebody’s life,” she said. “This morning we will be actively paying attention, and if we need to get law enforcement involved, we will.”
On Wednesday morning, Arizona’s Family’s Ian Schwartz said that the wind throughout the day will be between 10 and 15 miles per hour, with gusts reaching 20 miles per hour. Crews made up of hundreds of firefighters worked overnight to blockade the fire and keep it from spreading due to the winds anticipated for today. Most central and eastern Arizona, including Coconino, Navajo, and Apache Counties, are under a High Fire Danger alert. Fire restrictions are still in place across most of Arizona, excluding some southern regions. “Even though we had all this moisture over the past few months, we have a potential for fire based on all the fuel on the ground,” Davila said.
Capt. Dave Folio with Scottsdale Fire Department encouraged construction crews working in the area to use precautionary measures when working around the dry, dead brush. “Have a hose line out if you’re going to cut steel, have an area away from the brush so there are alternatives,” he said. “Get that defensible space and help us out. The brush is thick, so 15 to 30 feet away from your home, clear that brush.”
If you are in a safe area and have video or photos of the fire to share, you can upload them here.
The Diamond Fire broke out around 5:15 p.m. Tuesday near 128th Street and Ranch Gate Road. Firefighters, air support, and other agencies are on the scene to extinguish the fire. The Tonto National Forest said on Tuesday that over 25 engines and multiple air tankers were responding to the massive blaze.
“A local hay guy donated a bunch of hay for us, Walmart on Cave Creek Road... volunteered food and water for officers and anybody who needs that, and then we have other volunteers who just brought us food and water as well,” said Sunny Parker with Arizona Foothills 911. “Anything we have leftover, we’ll be giving to the wildland firefighters because we’re doing a big push to help them right now.”
Scottsdale police are assisting with traffic control near the brush fire and say all eastbound traffic is closed at 128th Street and Ranch Gate Road. Some workers were evacuated from homes under construction in the area. It is not known what caused the fire.
Capt. Folio said Tuesday night there are around 60 homes and 1,145 residents that needed to evacuate. There are also horse ranches in the area. “We got our hands full tonight. I feel for the people that live up in the area. Our hearts go out to them. We want to do everything we can to not lose any of those structures,” said Capt. Folio.
While shelters have been set up for people, pets and livestock, several Arizona’s Family viewers asked about a bald eagle preserve in the area of the fire. According to the Arizona Game & Fish Department, there are no active nests currently in that area and no birds are in danger.
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