With wildfire season looming, Arizona officials urge public to be cautious

Mar 22, 2021, 5:30 PM | Updated: Mar 23, 2021, 7:12 am
A view of the Bighorn Fire burning in the Catalina Mountains on June 11, 2020, in Tucson, Arizona. ...
A view of the Bighorn Fire burning in the Catalina Mountains on June 11, 2020, in Tucson, Arizona. (Photo by Jacob Snow/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
(Photo by Jacob Snow/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

PHOENIX (AP) — Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey and state forestry officials urged the public Monday to be extra wary because of a looming wildfire season that has the potential to be exceptionally devastating due to widespread drought.

There is very little snowpack in the ponderosa pine forests that cover large parts of northern and eastern Arizona, and portions of the state with grasslands that haven’t burned recently are loaded with years of growth dried out by low rainfall.

“Most of the state is experiencing extreme to exceptional drought,” said John Truett, the fire management officer for the Department of Forestry and Fire Management. “We’re looking at a very severe potential out there for wildland fires and rapid fire spread across the landscape.”

The department is predicting an early fire season in central and southern Arizona that could kick up as early next month as temperatures rise. There is a potential for widespread, statewide fire activity by June. On the plus side, there are indications that this year’s summer monsoon rains will won’t repeat the no-show of last year, which led to an extended fire season through the fall.

Ducey urged the public to boost their awareness of ignition sources as they head to the mountains for camping, fishing and other activities by making sure campfires are completely out, and he urged property owners to clear a 100-foot space around buildings to give fire crews a chance to save them should a wildfire approach.

“Just this month, 100 people had to be evacuated and a state route had to be closed because of fire in the Tonto Basin,” Ducey said. “This threat is real, it is present, and we’re taking steps to reduce the risk of wildfires is our communities.”

Those steps include plans to boost fuels reduction efforts next year with $24 million included in “Healthy Forests” legislation he signed earlier this month. The program will use up to 700 state prison inmates to clear overgrown areas and reduce fire risk.

The inmate crews build on wildland fire crew programs in the Department of Corrections, Rehabilitation and Reentry that Ducey has touted for their success in providing job training and opportunities for inmates when they are released.

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Pass it along to the KTAR News team here.

Arizona News

This undated file photo shows the petroglyphs of Grapevine Canyon just outside of Laughlin, Nev., n...
Associated Press

Project aims to preserve an Arizona tribe’s cultural history

Fort Mojave was established as a United States military outpost in 1859 to give safe passage to American immigrants.
14 hours ago
New citizens take the oath of allegiance during a naturalization ceremony in San Francisco in 2015....

Citizenship applications backlog leaves thousands with cases pending

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services is dealing with a backlog of citizenship applications caused by pandemic service reductions.
14 hours ago
(Facebook Photo, File/Phoenix Police Department)...
Associated Press

Suspect detained after fatally shooting man on Saturday in Phoenix

Police have identified a 21-year-old man who was pronounced dead after being shot on Saturday morning in Phoenix.
14 hours ago
Tempe Council Chambers (City of Tempe Government/Facebook Photo)...
SuElen Rivera

City of Tempe will consider renaming locations tied to former, local KKK members

In an upcoming session, Tempe City councilmembers are to consider renaming city parks, streets and schools that have been linked to a local Ku Klux Klan chapter in the 1920s, officials said Friday.
14 hours ago
Avinady Juarez Gonzales, 20. (Scottsdale Police Photo)...

Police arrest 20-year-old suspect in Scottsdale Holiday Inn shooting

A suspect has been arrested for his alleged involvement in the shooting of a man at a Scottsdale Holiday Inn last week, authorities said.
14 hours ago
(Getty Images Photo/Roberto Machado Noa)...

Police investigate death of 45-year-old woman shot in Phoenix

Police are investigating the death of a woman who died from a gunshot wound in Phoenix Friday night.
2 days ago

Sponsored Articles


What you need to know about spine health

With 540 million people suffering from lower back pain, it remains the leading cause of long-term disability. That’s why World Spine Day on Oct. 16 will raise awareness about spinal health with its theme, BACK2BACK. “BACK2BACK will focus on highlighting ways in which people can help their spines by staying mobile, avoiding physical inactivity, not overloading […]
Sweet James

Best fall road trips to take on a motorcycle

Autumn in Arizona brings the beauty of color-changing leaves and a relief from summer heat. It’s one of the most pleasant times to explore the outdoors, especially on a motorcycle.
PNC Bank

How one organization supports early childhood literacy for the most vulnerable

Nearly two out of every three children in low-income communities don’t own a single children’s book, a fact that ultimately could have profound impacts even before entering kindergarten, according to Arizona nonprofit Southwest Human Development.
With wildfire season looming, Arizona officials urge public to be cautious