- Associated Press - Tuesday, May 6, 2014

PRESCOTT, Ariz. (AP) - A wind-whipped brush fire broke out Tuesday afternoon near Prescott, sending several agencies rushing to fend off the blaze at a time when dry conditions have Arizona on high alert.

Authorities said the fire was at an estimated 500 acres by nightfall but was boxed in as crews tried to fully contain it.

Prescott Fire Department spokesman Wade Ward said there were still some active flames on the fire’s northeast side and crews planned to work overnight to keep the blaze from flaring up.

Authorities said the fire likely was human-caused because no lightning struck the area Tuesday and there were no immediate reports of any electrical lines falling.

The fire started in grasslands north of the Prescott airport along Highway 89 and quickly spread to about 100 acres before crews arrived around 4 p.m.

Ward said the area had wind gusts of up to 40 mph with sustained winds of 25 mph and the fire was being fought by crews on the ground.

No residents or structures were threatened, so no evacuations were needed, said Yavapai County sheriff’s spokesman Dwight D’Evelyn.

The fire came less than a year after Prescott lost 19 members of a hotshot crew during a wildfire. It was the worst loss of life for firefighters in the U.S. since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

A Prescott hotshot crew was among the many firefighters battling Tuesday’s fire, including crews from Chino Valley, the Central Yavapai Fire District and the U.S. Forest Service.

Arizona officials are worried about a devastating 2014 wildfire season amid a drought that has left the state with dangerously dry conditions.

Prescott enacted fire restrictions last month that ban people from smoking outside of their vehicles in nonresidential areas. Campfires are also banned outside developed campgrounds, among other restrictions.

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