Some Evacuations Lifted On Ocotillo Fire, Damage Assessments Begin

Firefighters have stopped forward progress on Ocotillo Fire. [Photo courtesy Arizona State Forestry Dept.]

PHOENIX – On Sunday, the Arizona Department of Forestry and Fire Management, the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office, along with the Town of Cave Creek, began the process of assessing structure damage and preparing plans for a full and safe reentry.

The human-caused Ocotillo Fire started Saturday afternoon off Ocotillo Road, northwest of Cave Creek. Five hundred people were evacuated with an estimated 10 structures damaged in the fire.

The fire remains at 1,216 acres with 10% containment.

As of 5:00 p.m. on Sunday, some residents were allowed to return home. That area includes, Rancho Manana and School House Road. Also, MCSO has reduced the hard closure area, and evacuations will remain in place, for the area north of Spur Crossing and Grapevine and west of 60th Street and Fleming Springs.

The evacuation order for the remainder of the burn area will remain in place for the next 72-hours.

Officials say that due to hazards within the fire perimeter, it is not safe to lift the entire evacuation order at this time. Multiple power poles and lines are down, propane tanks are leaking, and hotspots remain within the perimeter of the fire.

The Arizona Public Service (APS) began assessing their hazards and restoring power to the impacted areas. Also, natural gas advisors worked to pinpoint the locations of leaking propane tanks.

Besides identifying and mitigating area hazards, a damage assessment is nearly complete. By 5 pm tomorrow, the Town of Cave Creek will notify those residents impacted with structure loss. Residents can then set up a time to be escorted back in to their properties by MCSO.

“Public safety remains our top priority and we must work as safely, yet as quickly as possible to begin the reentry process. We understand your frustration and we know you want to get back into your homes. However, we must mitigate all hazards before allowing residents to return,’ said Incident Commander Darrell Willis.

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