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Current wildfire season is below normal, expert says

In this photo taken Thursday, July 21, 2016, Peter Ellermann waters his garden at the Community Gardens in Concord, N.H. The summer drought has forced Ellermann to cart in 30 gallons of water in five fallen containers three times a week to keep his plants healthy. Parts of the Northeast are in the grips of a drought that has led to water restrictions, wrought havoc on gardens and raised concerns among farmers. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)

PHOENIX — Although Arizona has had some bad wildfires this year, this fire season is not actually shaping up to be as severe as prior years.

“So far this year, we’ve had about a thousand fires, for about 160,000 acres burned,” said Chuck Maxwell, predictive services meteorologist at the South West Coordination Center (SWCC). “Typically, we average in a total fire season 3,000 fires for around 213,000 acres.”

A really good benchmark year for comparison is 2011, when we had around 1,900 fires for almost 1 million acres burned, he said.

“I think what you can expect is that we are going to have some drier periods that we’re kind of wavering in and out of right now,” he said. “I would also expect, with some of the drying trends, that we will see fires perk up and maybe be even some newsworthy fires.”

But the bottom line, he added, is when it’s all said and done, this will still turn out to be a below-normal season.

Prevention efforts in reducing human-caused fires, having resources in the right places and many other factors have played a part in a calmer fire season.

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