Arizona experts warn of increased fire danger after heavy rains
PHOENIX — Rain that coated the metro Phoenix area this week and in recent months could cause fire hazards down the road, experts are warning.
Arizona State University climatologist Randy Cerveny said heavier-than-normal precipitation since October has eradicated extreme drought conditions throughout the state, but it could create dangerous conditions once things dry out.
“The bad side is that it will produce a lot of fuel that later on in the season could become tinder for a good wildfire,” he told KTAR News 92.3 FM on Thursday.
Cerveny said heavy rains usually lead to fire seasons that are located more in the desert regions than the plateaus.
“The areas where we’re getting a lot of wildflower growth right now, those are going to be probably potential tinderboxes later on in the spring,” he said.
On Tuesday, the Scottsdale Fire Department issued a warning for residents whose homes are situated near or in land prone to wildland fires.
“Even with nature’s threat, it is possible to minimize the community’s risk with these types of incidents,” the department said.
Homeowners in these areas should take protective measures such as trimming lower branches and removing dead branches or leaves near structures.
Rains are phenomenal to reduce our drought, but it also increases our risk of wildfires with all the green plants that will soon become dry, brown fuel. You can reduce the threat by creating a defensible space around your home. https://t.co/C0u2j65RuG pic.twitter.com/Q5wKAltysw
— ScottsdaleFD (@ScottsdaleFire) March 12, 2019
Other steps include keeping eaves and gutters clear of leaves and any combustible debris.
It is also advisable to create a safety zone around a home by eliminating flash fuels and thinning overgrown vegetation.
“It only takes one little spark, one careless situation with somebody, and we could have a disaster on our hands here,” Cerveny said.
KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Jim Cross and The Associated Press contributed to this report.