Parts of Arizona could experience higher wildland fire activity

Apr 1, 2019, 1:05 PM | Updated: 5:58 pm
FILE- In this Nov. 9, 2018, file photo firefighters work to keep flames from spreading through the ...

FILE- In this Nov. 9, 2018, file photo firefighters work to keep flames from spreading through the Shadowbrook apartment complex as a wildfire burns through Paradise, Calif. (AP Photo/Noah Berger, File)

(AP Photo/Noah Berger, File)

PHOENIX — Parts of Arizona could experience higher activity this fire season, according to wildland forecasters.

The state Department of Forestry and Fire Management briefed Gov. Doug Ducey and his executive staff Monday on this year’s fire season outlook.

“As you’ll remember, last year was a very dry winter. This year’s been different,” Ducey said at a press conference.

“This is the sixth-wettest year on record in the Phoenix area. This is good news in the short term, but Arizona cannot afford to get complacent as we come to fire season.”

Ducey said wet winters can lead to dangerous summers because precipitation increases vegetation, thus increasing fuel for fires.

“So our plea to everyone this fire season is to remain vigilant,” he said.

“A vast majority of the fires are human-caused … so please be responsible when enjoying the great outdoors.”

Fire management officer John Truett said firefighters and emergency management have been working on prefire plans and are committed to protecting citizens, but there’s only so much they can do.

“The folks behind me, all of our chiefs, we’re willing to stay in and defend, but there’s times where it’s going to be impossible for us to stand there because we want all of our folks to go home,” Truett said.

“So if you all would just do your share on doing your clearance and keeping up on the restrictions and abiding by those, we’ll get through this summer just fine.”

The forestry department launched an app Monday that allows users to report issues and concerns with photos and includes resources about fire prevention.

The state last year saw fewer wildfires burn compared to 2017, thanks to early messaging and increased preparation in high-risk areas.

There were 2,000 wildfires that burned 165,000 acres on private, state, federal, and tribal lands in 2018, according to the state Department of Forestry and Fire Management.

In 2017, Arizona had 2,205 fires that charred 420,000 acres.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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Parts of Arizona could experience higher wildland fire activity