PHOENIX — Extreme wildfire danger signs are up across the North Scottsdale just ahead of the July 4th Weekend. Scottsdale Fire Deputy Chief & Fire Marshal Jim Ford says they will close the McDowell Sonoran Preserve area Saturday afternoon because the monsoon hasn’t delivered much rainfall and the wildfire concerns are very high.
The goal is to prevent having to carry out mountain rescues and to keep hikers from potentially lighting up fireworks in the area and igniting a wildfire.
“This is the only time of the year, July 4th, when the preserve is closed to the public,” Ford said. “Our biggest concern is the preserve areas. That’s almost a billion dollar investment from our residents. It’s surrounded by wildland urban interface, homes right up against the preserve. We’re worried about lightning strikes and illegal fireworks. Fireworks are against the rules but people do it anyway. People need to know that if they start a home or homes on fire they can be held liable for the damage.”
The 23,000 acre Rio Fire in 1995 burned a large part of McDowell Mountain Regional Park and sections of the McDowell Sonoran Preserve. That fire came dangerously close to homes but only skirted subdivisions without destroying a single house. There are far more homes and people twenty years later.