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Firefighters prepare for final tuneup before wildfire season

The Central Arizona Wildland Response Team is having its annual wildland fire preparedness drill later this week.

The drill will be held at the Goldfield Workstation on the Mesa Ranger District of the Tonto National Forest on Wednesday and Thursday.

Each year more than 25 stage and federal agencies, including local fire departments, come together to prepare for the upcoming wildland fire season.

"The drill is managed by an incident management team and allows us to build relationships with the agencies that will be working together this season," Tempe firefighter Kevin Bailey Jr. said.

Meanwhile, the weeklong Arizona Wildfire Academy begins Saturday in Prescott.

Going into last weekend the conditions were similar to what you would see in May and June. The rain and snow across the state helped, but the severity of our upcoming season will be determined by springtime rainfall.

"Because of the low snowpack and [lack of] rainfall we've had up until this point, we are expecting a nasty fire season," Bailey said. "We're about three months ahead of schedule right now and we need more rain from now until May."

Until Saturday Phoenix had gone 70 days without rainfall.

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About the Author


Position: Senior News Reporter. Started with KTAR July 4, 1999.

Favorite spots in Arizona: Pinetop-Lakeside, Alpine, Greer.

Have covered some of the biggest stories in Arizona including nine of the top 10 largest wildfires in state history. The Wallow Fire in 2011 became the largest fire in state history. Rodeo-Chediski Fire in June 2002, which is the second largest fire in Arizona. Covered the Yarnell Hill Tragedy in June 2013 that left 19 Granite Mountain Hotshots dead.

Favorite movies: True Grit, both 1969 John Wayne classic and the remake with Jeff Bridges and Lonesome Dove.

Sports Teams: Washington State University Cougars, Texas Longhorns, The University of Montana Grizzlies.

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