PHOENIX — Federal agencies said airpower and manpower will not be in short supply if and when Arizona starts dealing with severe wildfires.
Dolores Garcia with the Bureau of Land Management said there are enough firefighters in the state to deal with a serious wildfire.
“We have crews here pre-positioned in the case of new starts. They’re capable of moving very quickly.”
Crews have already been called to duty for a handful of blazes around Arizona, the most serious of them the Gladiator Fire near Crown King. That month-old blaze, which was announced as fully contained earlier this week, burned 16,240 acres.
In comparison, the fire near Fort Collins, Colo., has consumed more than 49,000 acres while a blaze in Ruidoso, N.M, has covered over 37,000 acres. Many firefighters from Arizona are working those blazes.
Two California hotshot crews (Laguna and Feather River) and a heavy duty DC-10 air tanker are stationed at Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport.
If need be, Arizona can tap into national resources, including the military and even call on crews from Australia and New Zealand. So far the state has avoided that scenario but, “Absolutely, we are very severe, very dry like Colorado and New Mexico,” Garcia said.
Fire commanders are dealing with less airpower this year. The number of air tankers is down to nine from 16 last year but Garcia said they have supplemented the tankers with more water-dropping heavy helicopters.