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Arizona state forester issues warning as wildfire season becomes more active

Gusty winds and rising temperatures across Arizona on Sunday led the state forester to urge the public about the dangers of starting a wildfire.

“A wildfire knows no boundaries,” said state forester Jeff Whitney in a statement. “That is why the Department of Forestry and Fire Management and our local and federal partners collaborate to get suppression of these fires. We must work together for our communities and for our great state. As we hustle to fight these fires, we ask the public to do their part and be vigilant around fire and proactive around their properties.”

Whitney asked for campers to make sure their fires were completely out. He also urged drivers not to drag tow chains or pull to the side of a road and over tall grasses that could easily catch fire.

As of Sunday evening, the Department of Forestry and Fire Management along with local and federal agencies were fighting nearly 30 wildfires throughout Arizona, including the Tee Fire near Black Canyon City.

That was up from 20 actives fires on Friday.

Arizona’s wildfire season generally spans from mid-May to early July, but is extended by several weeks every year.

State forestry officials predicted two months ago southern Arizona would have a higher fire risk than northern, forested parts of the state, because winter rain and snow increased the amount of vegetation that fuels fires in later months after it dries out.

The Dragoon Fire and Lizard Fire merged into one wildfire on Friday in southern Arizona, according to the U.S. Forest Service.

The fires have been burning in southeast Arizona, south of the I-10 and west of Highway 191. As of Sunday morning, the fire is at 14,900 acres and is five percent contained. Just under 300 personnel are working the fire.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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