The ongoing drought in the West means more water is being drawn from underground, some say at an alarming rate.
Scottsdale brush patrol team on the look out
The terrain and vegetation here in the desert may be different from other areas in the state that have been burned by wildfires, but local firefighters face the same threats.
Scorching heat and dry thunderstorms can spark a fire at any time. Scottsdale fire crews are patrolling part of the city that includes 60 square miles of brush filled desert.
Much of north of Scottsdale is a preserve. A large part sits between the Tonto National Forest and Cave Creek Regional Park. For the fire department, that means constant surveillance.
A small team of firefighters is assigned to brush patrol. They monitor the preserve and nearby homes. The teams look for brush fires and inspect properties for hazards. Their truck is equipped with a 250 gallon water tank.
This area of preserve sits between Cave Creek Road and Pima Road in Scottsdale. (Photo by Nadine Arroyo Rodriguez-KJZZ)
Rob Clark is one of the brush patrol members. He said it is especially dangerous in extremely hot weather. It has been 18 years since there was a major fire here.
“The last large fire that we had here in the Scottsdale preserve area was the Rio Fire, and it devastated a lot of acreage, but we haven’t had any that has come through and cleaned up the under brush since then," said Clark. “So, that’s one of our major concerns is that the fact if something does get started is does have the fuel to get up and go,” he adds.
Clark said residents can help by keeping a 30 foot clearance around their homes, eliminating weeds and brush.