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Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey delivers outlook for difficult wildfire season

(AP Photo)

PHOENIX — Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey has issued an outlook for an especially difficult wildfire season because of record dry winter conditions.

Ducey on Thursday called on everyone to prevent fires at all elevations and across all types of vegetation statewide, stressing that the majority of Arizona’s wildfires are human-caused, such as dragging trailer chains that can spark.

“I want to emphasize that the majority of our fires are caused by humans here in Arizona,” Ducey warned.

“Arizona is familiar with the devastation that wildfires can bring,” he added. “But there’s no beating around the bush, we expect these conditions to make the fire season especially challenging. “

Arizona State Forester Jeff Whitney said that he is more concerned about the situation right now than he ever has been in his long career.

“I’ve been doing this for 45 years and this has got us all extremely concerned,” he said.

Whitney said the conditions are worse right now than they were going into 2002, 2005 and 2011, which saw a combined million acres burned by the two largest fires in Arizona’s history.

Ducey announced earlier this month that because of Arizona’s record dry winter conditions he was doubling his request from $1 million to $2 million for fire prevention funding, including to remove hazardous vegetation that can serve as fuel for flames.

Ducey noted that at January’s end, Phoenix had seen only .44 inches of rain, making the winter the fourth driest start to the water year. The average is 2.85 inches.

Last year, more than 2,200 fires burned more than 400,000 acres across the state.

Separately, the governor’s office this week issued a list of fire prevention tips for people around the state, calling on them to make sure campfires are extinguished and cool to the touch before leaving campsites and to trim trees and other plants and mow grass around their homes.

People are also advised to keep flammable materials away from property and to avoid letting trailer chains dangle from truck beds.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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