ARIZONA NEWS

Officials warn of high fire risk this week in Phoenix area and beyond

Apr 9, 2019, 12:46 PM

(Flickr Photo/National Interagency Fire Center)...

(Flickr Photo/National Interagency Fire Center)

(Flickr Photo/National Interagency Fire Center)

PHOENIX – Officials are warning people in central and southwestern Arizona, including the Phoenix area, that conditions will be ripe for dangerous wildfires this week.

“It just takes one tiny spark, and you get a pretty big fire out there,” Andrew Deemer of the National Weather Service in Phoenix told KTAR News 92.3 FM on Tuesday.

With winds exceeding 30 mph and low humidity in the forecast, the agency issued a Fire Weather Watch for noon to 6 p.m. Wednesday in the southwest and south-central deserts.

That includes Maricopa, northern Pinal, southern Gila, La Paz and Yuma counties.

Deemer said most wildfires are caused human activity that should be avoided while the risk is high.

“Don’t throw your [cigarette] butts out the window. Make sure you’re not dragging any kinds of chains if you’re hauling a vehicle,” he said.

“Don’t go off-roading. Don’t shoot in the desert. Just hold those activities off until the weather improves.”

The heavy vegetation that resulted from a wet winter is now drying out, providing ample fuel for potential fires, Deemer said.

“A lot of that brush is now brown; it’s dying,” Deemer said. “And it’s not going to take much to get any kind of fire started, especially with these strong winds.”

The risk is expected to decrease when the winds die down Thursday. That could be followed by rain on Friday, when the Valley will see up to a 40% chance for precipitation.

KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Jim Cross contributed to this report.

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Officials warn of high fire risk this week in Phoenix area and beyond