Arizona readying wildfire staffers after very dry winter
PHOENIX — Dry conditions near and around Flagstaff have officers from the Coconino National Forest Service on alert for forest fire potential this upcoming spring.
The Arizona Daily Sun reported that the organization will look to hire its more than 100 seasonal wildfire staffers in March — one month ahead of schedule — after near record lows in both snow- and rainfall.
The Forest Service was expected to focus hiring in southern Arizona as the wildfire season starts earlier there than the northern part of the state.
To cover the costs of the extra firefighting crews, the Forest Service can apply for a special “severity funding” but typically the Forest Service has to dish out the extra cash on its own.
Fire danger has gained a lot of awareness this winter following wildfires in California and recent repercussions including dangerous mudslides that many analysts have claimed were caused by the fires.
Last year, more than 400,000 acres of land burned in Arizona. In July, Gov. Doug Ducey declared a state of emergency to free up funds to help combat the flames.
The hired hands were expected to perform a variety of tasks, including controlled burns. Those clear some of the most dangerous areas of burnable materials in hopes a small blaze will not ignite a much larger one.
There is also a possibility that spring precipitation can bring more moisture to the area and dampen some of the dryness caused by the winter and fall seasons.
Wind can be another mitigating or inciting factor to large wildfires. Strong winds can dry up land filled with moisture from even a wet winter season.
Forest Service officials are hoping for a wet and calm spring season to counteract the low precipitation totals from the winter.