Video by Anthem resident Evan Baltz.
A brush fire in a wash on the far east side of Anthem burned about 1 acre and briefly threatened homes this evening in a reminder that a severe drought has created extreme fire risks. It was one of the largest within the community in years.
“We have had numerous small incidents in the washes over the years, but this one has been the largest in the smaller washes with walking paths through them,” Brent Fenton, a spokesperson for Daisy Mountain Fire & Medical, told North Phoenix News.
“Tall dry grass that’s abundant in area washes caused the fire to move fast,” said Paul Schickel, also with DMFM. “Four homes were immediately threatened, but crews quickly surrounded and contained the fire.”
The brush fire was in a wash between Hastings Way and Meridian Drive, west of a pocket park in a wash bordering Clearview Trail.
“Crews have fire control, and are in the process of mopping up,” DMFM said in a statement shortly after 7 p.m. “There were no damages to any structures, and no injuries to report.”
Because it was in the midst of a residential area, the fire warranted First Alarm status. “The response included six fire engines, four brush trucks, two water tankers, four battalion vehicles, one wildland specialist, and one utility truck,” Schickel said. “Daisy Mountain Fire & Medical units were supported by fire units from Peoria and Phoenix.”
“It was across the street from me and moving fast,” Linda Bartley said on the Anthem News Facebook page. “Thank God for our Daisy Mt. Fire Department and their fast response. Pretty darn frightening for those of us next to it.”
“This was a human-caused fire, but the exact cause is unknown,” the agency said in a Facebook post.
This past winter brought about 1 inch of rain to Anthem and the rest of North Phoenix, when 6 inches would be the norm.
High temperatures, low humidity and strong winds accentuate the fire risk, officials say, encouraging residents to create a fire-proof perimeter around their homes.
And, DMFM said today: “Never be careless with cigarette butts. Please avoid any unnecessary use of fire, and be mindful of objects that can create sparks (i.e. chains on a trailer, small gas powered equipment, etc).”
And in a residential area, the challenges of a wildland fire are compounded.
“In some instances like this fire, firefighters need to access homeowners backyards to protect the homes,” Schickel said. “It’s important for people to remember to keep their landscaping well-manicured to prevent brush fires in a wash from extending into the yard and then to their homes.”
Editor’s Note: The headline of this article was changed from “Wildfire” to “Brush Fire.”