Fire Danger

(Editor’s note: in order to broaden the reach and serve the interests of our communities, I have treated this letter as a public service announcement, also)

“Not all guests are welcome. This year we have seen an explosion of weeds. This is partly because we had steady rains throughout the autumn and winter.  In the water year 2018-2019 Cave Creek didn’t flow at all through the Spur Cross Ranch Conservation Area. Unusual. But this past season it’s been flowing continuously from October into May. This year’s flowers were beautiful, especially at Bartlett Lake; yellow Mexican poppies and yellow brittle bush mixed with blue lupine. The saguaros are now coming into bloom. With our beautiful High Sonoran Desert, who needs any other flower garden?

But this year we can expect a very dangerous fire season. We have seen an explosion of the round yellow flowers called Globe Chamomile “guests.” It was introduced to the United States from South Africa in the 1980s. In the last year Globe Chamomile has taken over in Cave Creek and Carefree. According to Luke Kautzman in the Cave Creek Town Planning Department, this weed has a special and unwelcome trait. Most weeds sprout where the ground has been disturbed. Globe chamomile doesn’t care. It spreads everywhere. Now those pretty yellow flowers have gone to seed and the plants are left as dry tinder. We can expect the seeds to sprout whole new cop next winter.

Another invasive species is wild oats. Wild oats are native to Eurasia. About a decade ago we noticed a light brown patch at the far end of New River Mesa, visible from Cave Creek 10 miles to the north. Each year the patch has grown larger. This year it’s moved closer to town and makes our beloved Elephant Mountain look like a senior citizen with fuzzy light brown hair on its back. (See the photo.)

These and other dried out weeds are waiting to go up in flame. All it takes is a lightning strike, a cigarette tossed from a car. or a chain dragging sparks down the road. To protect yourself and you neighbors, cut these weeds away from your home and away from trees that they might set on fire. Dispose of the cut weeds to reduce the danger to your home and to your neighbors. Clean up unnecessary wood from your yard. When one home burns, embers can fly to other homes. For the worst case scenario, look at what happened to Paradise, California last year. The town of 26,000 was completely destroyed and 85 people died. 

The Cave Creek Complex Fire in June of 2005 burned about 400 square miles from our area northward in the Tonto National Forest. This was Arizona’s third largest wildfire.  It was started by lightning above the Tonto Hills development in far north Scottsdale. 11 homes in Camp Creek were destroyed. It’s ready to happen again. A few years later, kids set fire to brush in the Jewel of the Creek. Rural Metro was right on that one and fortunately it didn’t go far.

Please. Cut. Remove, Protect yourself and your neighbors. And if you see a fire, call Rural Metro ASAP before it spreads. Because it will.”

Thomas McGuire
Cave Creek Councilman