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Cluster of wildfires near Phoenix prompt new fire patrols

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Posted at 7:01 AM, May 03, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-03 10:01:11-04

WITTMANN, Ariz. (AP) - State fire officials say three recent wildfires in desert areas northwest of Phoenix were caused by people, and fire patrols have been ordered around the communities of Wittmann and Wickenburg.

The fires that broke out in the area about 40 miles (64 kilometers) northwest of downtown Phoenix last month grew quickly because of dried grasses that sprouted after winter rains. One was by caused by someone burning debris, one by a barbecue and one by welding.

Department of Forestry and Fire Management officials say dangerous conditions exist across the state's Sonoran desert because of abundant dried grasses.

Fire Behavior Analyst Byron Kimball said in a statement Thursday that residents who previously might have used a garden hose to extinguish a fire can be overwhelmed by fire quickly spreading through grasses.