NEAR FOUNTAIN HILLS, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) – Ground crews and air tankers are on their way to fight a lightning-sparked fire in the McDowell Mountain Regional Park north of Fountain Hills. The fire started Thursday night as a strong monsoon storm swept through the area.
Aerial video showed a jogger among the flames apparently trying to create a fire break. Arizona's Family tracked him down a few hours later. It turns out Scott Pasmore and Trevor Murphy have a friend in common.
Murphy told Pasmore that he's training for a 100-mile ultra marathon in October and was out on his usual 10- to 20-mile morning run.
"I'm out on that trail mostly every day," Murphy explained. He said he wanted to keep the flames from spreading across the trail and heading into another part of the preserve.
He said he wasn't worried about the possibly of being trapped by the flames.
"It was kind of working in one direction and I felt like it was already pretty under control," Murphy continued. "I just wanted to make sure it didn't cross the trail and head north towards Tom's Thumb. No one was out there and I felt like I could do my part, what little help maybe I did."
Some had speculated that Murphy might have been an off-duty firefighter or have some experience in that arena. Nope. He said he used to play golf professionally and now is in real estate.
While he wasn't hurt, Murphy didn't walk away unscathed.
"The soles of my shoes are melted [and I have] lots of singed hair," he said.
"Was it worth it?" Pasmore asked.
"No. No, it wasn't," Murphy answered with a laugh. "But, you know, I feel like I did my part. I actually probably prevented 100 or 150 yards of fire from spreading over that trail."
He said he had been out there for about two hours before the helicopter spotted him. "I did quite a bit, as much as I could. I like to see some positive news out there so I thought I could give you it."
According to fire managers, the McDowell Fire settled a bit overnight because of cooler temperatures and increased humidity, but they expect it to get more active as the day heats up. Already at about 200 acres, the fire is chewing through grass, brush, and other desert vegetation.
“There are a number of values at risk, including primary structures, communications towers, the preserve, and utility lines,” according to the incident management page. “There are no structures threatened at this time and no evacuations, but residents always need to stay alert and be ready to evacuate within a moment’s notice.”
The park is closed because of the fire.
Aerial video showed a jogger among the flames apparently trying to create a fire break.
Fire managers say they’re concerned about extended hot temperatures and the possibility of dry lightning with evening thunderstorms.
McDowell Mountain Regional Park is temporarily closed due to wildfire activity. Recreating in the park at this time can hinder efforts by first responders and put you in harms way. #StaySafe #McDowellFire #AZForestry https://t.co/uCQNfXhY1s— Maricopa County Park (@MCParks) August 21, 2020
#AZForestry responding to #McDowellFire within McDowell Mountain Regional Park near #FountainHills. 150-200 acres w/ 2 sep heads, one moving E & one moving W. Access limited. #AZFire @MaricopaEmerg #MaricopaCounty @MCParks— AZ State Forestry (@azstateforestry) August 21, 2020