CAVE CREEK, AZ (3TV/CBS5) –- The Mountain Fire has exploded to 7,470 acres northeast of Cave Creek.

According to Tonto National Forest officials, the fire is 50% contained as of 10:45 a.m. Sunday morning.

[WATCH: Mountain Fire near Cave Creek forces evacuations; Woodbury Fire ignites]

On Saturday, Tonto National Forest officials tweeted that mandatory evacuations were issued for Bartlett Lake and Horseshoe recreational areas.

WATCH VIDEO: Mountain Fire near Bartlett Lake

"That's the real fight to this fire today, is the wind," said Brad Widhalm with Tonto National Forest. "We have little line around it and it's continuing to march on."

Fire crews expect the winds to calm once the sun sets.

"The wind stops coming out of the southwest, typically. And they'll start, we call it diurnal winds, so they'll just switch and come out of the northeast, which will help the fire, it'll push it back onto itself," Widhalm said. "I believe the winds for tomorrow are forecasted to be a little bit lighter so that'll help us as well."

The road to Bartlett Lake is closed where it intersects with Cave Creek Road.

All day-use areas and campgrounds near Horseshoe and Bartlett lakes have been closed to allow firefighters to concentrate on containing the fire.

People who are currently in the area are being allowed to leave and are being escorted back to Cave Creek Road. Fire officials urge people to go to a different lake for the weekend.

"The fire is definitely burning on both sides of the road," Widhalm said.

Lines of vehicles with RVs and boats left Bartlett Lake throughout the evening. People hoping to spend the weekend at the lake were turned away. 

"We pulled up and there were about half a dozen cars here just sitting here watching the fire and we were just like you know, I'll just sit here and wait it out," said Chad Gandy, who brought his family with a camper and a boat. 

Officials say you should find a backup plan if you hoped to spend the weekend at Bartlett Lake. 

"Don't come to Bartlett Lake, the road's closed. It's going to be closed today--for the rest of today--and tomorrow and possibly longer just depending on how long firefighters are in the road," said Widhalm. 

The fire started on Friday around noon about 8 miles east of Cave Creek, near the turnoff for Horseshoe Dam Road at Bartlett Lake.

[WATCH: Mountain Fire burning near Bartlett Lake]

Video from the news helicopter showed heavy smoke coming from a mountain area in the Tonto National Forest. That plume of smoke was visible for miles.

[PHOTOS: Mountain Fire near Cave Creek spews massive smoke plume]

Two air tankers and two crews from Payson and Mesa have been assigned to the scene.

The chopper was there as a DC-10 air tanker, which is based at Phoenix- Mesa Gateway Airport, made a run over the fire.

[RAW VIDEO: DC-10 tanker does run over Mountain Fire near Cave Creek]

While most wildland firefighting aircraft can carry about 3,000 gallons of slurry at most, the DC-10s haul nearly four times that.

According to a Tonto National Forest spokesman, the Mountain Fire is human-caused. He said there was no lightning in the area.

The Arizona Department of Transportation said no highways have been closed.

The area where the fire is burning is about 90 minutes northeast of Phoenix.

Firefighters said they expected containment to grow dramatically during the weekend.  They told Arizona's Family that increased humidity levels could decrease flames across the area.

 


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