Let it burn: Arizona saw fewer wildfires in 2018 compared to year prior

Jan 25, 2019, 4:59 AM
(U.S. Forest Service Photo)...
(U.S. Forest Service Photo)
(U.S. Forest Service Photo)

PHOENIX — Arizona kicked off 2018 with an unfavorable forecast — little to no rain and severe drought conditions — creating the perfect landscape for a very active fire season throughout the state.

But thanks to early messaging and increased preparation in high-risk areas, the Arizona Department of Forestry and Fire Management saw fewer wildfires burn across the state this past year.

There were 2,000 wildfires on private, state, federal, and tribal lands in 2018, according to the agency. In 2017, that number reached 2,205.

“There’s a lot of factors going into the decrease in these numbers,” Tiffany Davila with the Arizona Department of Forestry and Fire Management told KTAR News 92.3 FM on Thursday.

“But the main one (is) closures. We haven’t put closures on state owned or managed land in about ten years,” she added.

“By implementing those closures on our higher risk areas, it really helped us decrease that fire activity.”

Sixty-eight percent of the wildfires that burned in Arizona in 2018 were caused by humans, compared to 72 percent in 2017.

More than 165,000 acres burned in wildfires across Arizona in 2018, compared to the previous year where fires burned roughly 420,000 acres.

The Arizona Department of Forestry credits the decrease in wildfires to early prevention efforts, social media messaging, public assistance and increased collaboration with federal and local authorities.

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Let it burn: Arizona saw fewer wildfires in 2018 compared to year prior