With daily triple-digit temperatures and July 4 around the corner, Scottsdale and other Valley cities are dealing with increased wildfire risk.
A number of fires have broken out in Scottsdale and other Valley cities in recent weeks, leading Scottsdale’s mayor to ask residents to take precautions to protect their homes and the community.
“We have dangerous conditions as the heat does come upon us and dries up the vegetation that has grown throughout the winter and spring with a significant amount of additional rainfall,” Mayor Jim Lane said at the June 11 City Council meeting.
Scottsdale Fire Deputy Chief John Whitney said that, by far, fires are most prevalent in the city during the summer “due to the dry fuels, hot temperatures and higher winds.”
Of the 12 fires in Scottsdale between January 1 and June 18, eight have taken place since June 1, Whitney said.
One more fire was added to that list on June 24 when Scottsdale Fire Department successfully fought a 15-acre brush fire north of Dynamite Road between Scottsdale and Hayden Roads.
Phoenix Fire Department and crews with the State of Arizona and Tonto National Forest also responded to the blaze.
Scottsdale Fire spokesperson Lori Schmidt said 15 homes were exposed to the fire, which was 100 percent contained within the day.
The fire came just weeks after another brush fire broke out in northern Scottsdale.
On June 10, Scottsdale Fire Department responded to a brush fire in a wash near Whispering Rock Golf Club, Whitney said.
The department determined the fire was caused accidentally by construction workers welding in the area.
“Structures were exposed but not ultimately affected,” Whitney said.
No fire fighters or residents were injured in the fire.
Scottsdale Fire Department was able to take control of the fire in just over 20 minutes and full overhaul took about six hours.
In June, Scottsdale Fire Department also assisted Phoenix Fire Department in putting out a 50-acre fire that was started by fireworks, Whitney said.
Whitney said Scottsdale has had two fires caused by fireworks, both smoke bombs, this year.
Mayor Lane asked residents to take precautionary steps to limit the fire threat around their homes, including creating a 30-foot defensible area around the home by removing flash fuels like dried-out brush.
“It does provide a lot of fuel when it does dry up,” Lane said.
Lane cited other methods, also publicized by the fire department, to mitigate fire risk.
Residents can safeguard their homes by removing invasive plants around structures and removing flammable items and excess plant growth from beneath wooden decks and other flammable overhangs.
Residents should also clear dried leaves from eaves and gutters and keep a garden hose outside for use.
The fire department suggests residents rim the lower branches on trees, up to four to six feet from the desert floor and remove overgrown branches from the roof and patio areas of homes.
The department also suggests residents remain aware of ignition sources like fireplaces, barbeque grills, improper disposal of smoking materials and fireworks.
Fire risk in Scottsdale often increases around the July 4 holiday due to increased sales of consumer fireworks.
Sales and use of certain types of fireworks is permitted under state law, but the City of Scottsdale does have some ordinances in place regulating their use.
An Arizona law passed in 2010 requires municipalities to allow the sale of fireworks from May 20 through July 6 and from Dec. 10 through Jan. 3. The same law allows for the use of those fireworks from June 24 through July 6 and from Dec. 24 through Jan. 3.
Scottsdale ordinance strictly prohibits the sale or use of fireworks outside of these dates.
Those rules apply to clearly-marked consumer grade fireworks. Novelty items, including smoke balls and wire sparklers, are permitted at any time.
Fireworks are completely prohibited at all times on all McDowell Sonoran Preserve land, and the preserve will close at 3 p.m. on July 4.
Fireworks use is also prohibited at all times on city-owned property, including city buildings, city parking lots, city parks, public schools and city streets.
According to Scottsdale Fire, residents who see a wildfire should call 9-1-1 immediately while the fire is still small and before they take action themselves.