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Wildcat Fire: The latest on the Arizona wildfire near Scottsdale

May 27: Fewer than 100 local personnel working as blaze dies down

The Wildcat Fire burning in northern Maricopa county — just 25 miles north of Scottsdale — is now at least 84% contained and is being managed by local resources.

The wildfire was “human-caused” according to officials, but no details about the start of the fire have been released.

It started last Saturday and has burned more than 14,400 acres.

The number of personnel working on the Wildcat fire had gone down from a few hundred to around 90 as of Sunday.

It’s the closest fire to the Valley metro area. Fire management has been turned back over to local resources as officials have moved on to a newer wildfire in Yuma county known as the Refuge Fire.

There are a handful of other wildfires across the state which aren’t yet fully contained; the “horse fire” is still burning slightly northeast of the Wildcat fire. It is also not fully contained and described as “human-caused.”

The Toyo wildfire is still burning far to the east of Phoenix.

May 22: Officials say fire is likely human-caused

The Wildcat Fire is still raging in the Tonto National Forest, north of Scottsdale, but its growth has slowed. It’s burned 22 square miles and is now 36% contained. The fire seems to be human-caused and remains under investigation.

The number of fire personnel working the blaze has been rolled back to just under 200. Officials also expanded the restricted zone around the fire.

Separately, Stage 1 fire restrictions will go into effect Thursday morning on state trust lands in Gila, Maricopa and Pinal Counties.

Tonto National Forest officials have also announced that Emergency Stage 1 Fire Restrictions will go into effect there at the same time.

Restrictions limit outdoor activities including campfires, charcoal grills, fireworks, and smoking in most areas until further notice.

May 21: 23% containment despite weather

Firefighters were able to achieve 23% containment on the Wildcat Fire through Sunday and Monday, according to officials. The fire size increased minimally to 14,283 acres.

Firefighting crews were facing high grasses making it difficult to walk through and wind gusts as high as 20 mph during the day.

May 20: Weather conditions prove difficult

The Wildcat Fire has burned more than 20 square miles of the Cave Creek Ranger district northeast of Phoenix on Monday afternoon, May 20.

The fire is zero percent contained.

Since sparking on Saturday, the fire grew quickly due to weather conditions. A closure order is in effect in the area, which includes some western parts of the Tonto National Forest.

Tonto National Forest spokesperson Mike Reichling said they’re keeping an especially close eye on weather conditions.

“Our main concern is the wind today,” he said. “We brought in additional resources — we’ve got over 300 personnel on the fire, [and] added a couple more helicopters to the two we had yesterday.”

Reichling said no homes are currently threatened, and precautions have been taken to protect nearby power lines.

While the fire has grown a little, fire crews have been able to make some progress and protect nearby power lines and homes. The goal, said Reichling, is to get a better handle on the blaze before the upcoming holiday weekend.

Fire teams are scouting and constructing fire lines to prevent further spread.

The cause is still under investigation.

Visitors have been escorted out of the Bartlett Lake area but no evacuations have been ordered and forest officials said the wildfire wasn’t threatening any occupied structures at this time.

Tonto National Forest officials said in a statement that “the public is urged to stay away from the area so as not to impede fire suppression operations and for the safety of themselves and firefighters.”

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Jill Ryan joined KJZZ in 2020 as a morning reporter, and she is currently a field correspondent and Morning Edition producer.