Cave Creek wildfire wake-up call

The wildfire wake-up call on July 20th for many Cave Creek residents was the thundering sound of air tankers overhead.  Flying at just 500 feet over Cave Creek homes, the fire retardant carrying jets were bound for the Central Fire in nearby New River.  Amazingly, even with windows rattling from the jet noise, the Cave Creek Town Council seems to have slept through this event and many other nearby wildfires.

Just days prior to the human-caused New River fire, former Councilwoman Eileen Wright presented the Cave Creek Wildfire Ordinance to a seemingly sleepy and disinterested Town Council.   The suggested ordinance was simple in addressing four methods of igniting a human caused wildfire.  The proposed ordinance reads as follows:

The following actions are prohibited in residential areas during an EXTREME or HIGH fire danger declaration by the Town:

Grinding metal, welding or operating an acetylene torch with open flame

Dragging chains behind a vehicle

Parking on dry grass – always park on the road and do not park on vegetation at anytime

Discharging or using any type of firework by pyrotechnic device

Approving this ordinance seems like a no-brainer to those living in most of residential Cave Creek, a town without a fire hydrant anywhere in sight.  Instead of debating or passing this important Cave Creek Wildfire Ordinance, the Council decided it was in their best interest to cancel the August meeting.  Following the Council meeting the Mayor published a column entitled “Mayor Bunch Writes – The New Normal.” In this article the Mayor blames the “fuel-load” (Globe Chamomile plant) culprit, not the fire-starters.  When It comes to the source of ignition, he states that “It is not time for knee-jerk reactions.” Isn’t it a knee-jerk reaction to call multiple fire departments and air tankers after a wildfire starts?

On July 7th the human-caused Cave Creek Road/Sonoran Parkway fire burned two square miles even with immediate and aggressive firefighting.  A similar burn area in the Town of Cave Creek would cover from the Grapevine Wash near the library, north to Fleming Springs to the Carefree border. Not only is property and landscape forever damaged, not to mention human lives, the wildlife that is destroyed or fleeing is significant and tragic.

There has been a lot of bloviating about the safety of welding, torching and grinding in our dry and heavily vegetated desert community.  In fact, everyone on the Town Council supports Councilman Paul Deifenderfer’s tin shed Desert Rat Welding, including non-resident welders and the promise of a cargo container business at 75th and E Highland Road.

Why should Cave Creek homeowner’s trust the safety of their family, pets, livestock and property to reckless and unnecessary activities during extreme fire conditions?  Most wildfires are accidental, unpredictable, can travel at speeds of 45 mph and are capable of super-heating plants and building causing explosive combustion.  Why take the chance? As a community of environmentally conscious and preservation-minded citizens, let’s come together and support the Cave Creek Wildfire ordinance now.

John Hoeppner
1985-86 Cave Creek
Incorporating Committee