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.

Lifetime Windows & Doors

We want to hear from you.

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

Arizona News

(Pexels Photo)...

Valley contractor owes employees $2.6M in wages, damages in settlement

A Phoenix-area construction contractor agreed to pay $2.6 million in back wages and damages as part of a settlement reached last month, authorities said.
23 hours ago
President Joe Biden tours the building site for a new computer chip plant for Taiwan Semiconductor ...
Associated Press

President Joe Biden touts economic plan at TSMC chip plant in north Phoenix

President Joe Biden on Tuesday visited the site for a new computer chip plant in Phoenix and touted his economic plan.
23 hours ago
(Facebook File Photo/Phoenix Police Department)...

Child killed in 2-vehicle collision on Thomas Road in central Phoenix

A child is dead and three other people are in the hospital after a collision in central Phoenix on Tuesday morning, authorities said.
23 hours ago
(Photo by Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)...

Special counsel investigating Trump sends subpoena to Valley elections officials

A federal investigator wants know what Donald Trump and his surrogates said to Maricopa County elections officials before and after the 2020 election.
23 hours ago
(Unsplash Photo)...

Pecking orders from Chandler expand rules on keeping backyard chickens

Families in a Phoenix suburb will be counting their chickens, but only up to five, after the city government approved backyard chickens.
23 hours ago
(KTAR News File Photo)...
Kevin Stone

Police say possible gun at Scottsdale school was just computer equipment

The student who reported a possible gunman at a Scottsdale high school last week actually saw somebody carrying computer equipment, police said.
23 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Prep the plumbing in your home just in time for the holidays

With the holidays approaching, it's important to know when your home is in need of heating and plumbing updates before more guests start to come around.
Quantum Fiber

Stream 4K and more with powerful, high-speed fiber internet

Picking which streaming services to subscribe to are difficult choices, and there is no room for internet that cannot handle increased demands.
Quantum Fiber

How high-speed fiber internet can improve everyday life

Quantum Fiber supplies unlimited data with speeds up to 940 mbps, enough to share 4K videos with coworkers 20 times faster than a cable.
With wildfire season looming, Arizona officials urge public to be cautious