Evacuation orders lifted on Diamond Fire in northeast Scottsdale

Jun 27, 2023, 6:12 PM | Updated: Jul 6, 2023, 4:39 pm

PHOENIX — The Maricopa County Department of Emergency Management lifted and evacuation order for the Diamond Fire Wednesday night in northeast Scottsdale.

What started as a five-acre North Scottsdale brush fire Tuesday near 128th Street and Ranch Gate Road expanded to a regional threat.

Scottsdale fire officials said the Diamond Fire exploded to around 2,500 acres.

The fire quickly moved east toward the McDowell Mountain Regional Park by around 7 p.m., out of the jurisdiction of the Scottsdale Fire Department.

“We started evacuation initially from 128th Street Jomax to Rio Verde Drive all the way to over at 166th, 160th Street,” Scottsdale Fire Department Captain Dave Folio told reporters at around 8 p.m.

“We’ve got about 1,145 people evacuated,” Folio said. “We’re asking people to continue staying out of the area.”

After Scottsdale Fire struck the first alarm, nearby cities responded quickly. Tonto National Forest officials, as well as authorities with the Arizona Department of Forestry (ADF), also joined the fight.

“The fire has since moved over into more of a county, state land further to the east,” Folio said.

Although Scottsdale initially took command of the firefighting efforts, they’ve since turned control over to the ADF.

Tiffany Davila, an ADF representative, says officials still don’t know what started the fire. However, they know it was wind-driven.

“Obviously it was burning quickly this afternoon through fine fuels, the grass, brush, just your typical desert vegetation,” she said. “It was very active on the eastern flank. That’s where you were seeing black smoke earlier today.”

It threatened homes northwest of the McDowell, North Scottsdale and Rio Verde areas.

“We have about 250 personnel assigned to this fire,” Davila said. “That includes a task force of eight engines, additional engines from local cooperators, I’d say around 25 to 30 engines.”

Multiple hand crews from state and federal agencies also pitched in to try and tame the raging flames.

In the meantime, displaced residents can find shelter at the Cactus Shadows High School evacuation center.

Authorities say the Diamond Fire hasn’t hurt any homes yet

The Scottsdale Fire Department initially reported the fire as a 5-acre brush fire at around 5 p.m. Tuesday.

By around 5:45 p.m., Scottsdale Police said the fire was moving east toward the McDowell Mountain Regional Park.

By 6 p.m., the fire expanded to 150 acres, according to Arizona State Forestry.

Barely half an hour later, AZ Forestry Representative Tiffany Davila confirmed it spread to 700 acres at around 6:20 p.m.

The so-called “Diamond Fire” threatened dozens of homes northwest of the McDowell, North Scottsdale and Rio Verde areas.

Around 15 miles northeast of the Phoenix Zoo, the Diamond Fire was so out of control that the authorities called in the big guns — or the big planes. Locals spotted at least two DC-10 planes tearing across the sky to supply air support to ground teams battling the fire.

Davila said four to five air units in total dropped retardants on the fire.

Residents are still displaced due to the North Scottsdale brush fire

To tame the fire, authorities first shut down eastbound traffic at the intersection of 128th Street and Ranch Gate Road, where the fire first flared up. The area is still shut down as of 9:15 p.m., so drivers will have to find a workaround.

Construction workers building nearby homes had to be evacuated, according to the Scottsdale Police Department.

Now, evacuations are more widespread. Anyone who lives or works south of Rio Verde Drive, east of 136th Street or west of 152nd Street needs to evacuate as soon as possible, Scottsdale Police said.

“We’re also working on an evacuation center right now,” Folio said during the 8 p.m. press conference.

Two hours later, the Scottsdale Fire Department said the evacuation center at Cactus Shadows High School was up and running. They also gave residents hope that the fire could soon die down.

“The Department of Forestry and Fire Management has taken command of the fire,” the Scottsdale Fire Department announced at around 10 p.m. Over 200 firefighters are still on the scene.

This is an ongoing story.

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Evacuation orders lifted on Diamond Fire in northeast Scottsdale