As weather warms up, Arizona Forestry launches wildfire prevention week

Mar 30, 2022, 4:05 AM | Updated: 6:20 am
(AP Photo/Nic Coury, File)...
(AP Photo/Nic Coury, File)
(AP Photo/Nic Coury, File)

PHOENIX – Multiple public agencies, led by the Arizona Department of Forestry and Fire Management, are stressing fire prevention in the wildlands with the launch of Southwest Wildfire Awareness Week.

The campaign began Sunday and runs through Saturday, the agency said in a press release.

The forestry department oversees fire management of 22 million acres of state trust land and private property in unincorporated areas. Last year, 71% of the fires in the state were caused by people. More than 1,700 wildfires seared 524,428 acres.

Before wildfire season begins in earnest, wildfire managers recommend residents in wilderness areas clear their property of debris and keep rooftops free of anything that could act as fuel to flames.

“We’re already seeing activity in southern Arizona,” agency spokeswoman Tiffany Davila told KTAR News 92.3 FM, referring to the 4,000-acre Presumido Peak Fire near the border with Mexico.

“We don’t want people to think we’re out of the woods after last years monsoon. Don’t wait to create defensible space now.”

The campaign offers more prevention tips:

● Ensure campfires are out cold. Drown, stir, and repeat.
● Make sure vehicles and tires are properly maintained before getting on the road.
● Never pull a vehicle off the road into tall grasses.
● Target shooting and fireworks are prohibited on state trust land.
● Check the weather. Have a water source and shovel nearby if doing any outdoor activity involving fire. On windy days, avoid burning or using tools that may spark.
● Create defensible space around your property. Remove dead or dying vegetation, keep the lawn watered and mowed, remove leaf litter from rooftops, remove flammable material away from your property.

The department also advises signing up for emergency alerts at the Arizona Emergency Information Network and having a go bag stocked with essentials, including prescription medications, snacks, water, money and credit cards.

The forestry agency will meet with Gov. Doug Ducey at the state Capitol on Thursday to present a wildland fire outlook.

The Bureau of Land management, the U.S. Forest Service, Arizona State Parks and Trails and the Arizona Department of Transportation are also part of the team effort.

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

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As weather warms up, Arizona Forestry launches wildfire prevention week