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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.