Gov. Ducey: Warm winter means challenging wildfire season ahead

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(Source: Twitter) (Source: Twitter)
(Source: Les Stukenberg/The Daily Courier) (Source: Les Stukenberg/The Daily Courier)

We've had a gorgeous winter so far, but what does that mean for wildfire season?

This year’s unusually warm and dry winter is creating concern the 2018 wildfire season may start even earlier and be more active throughout the state.

In fact, there's already been some fire activity we have seen over the last few weeks.

On Thursday, the State Forester briefed Governor Doug Ducey about the outlook for this year’s wildland fire season.

[RAW VIDEO: Arizona wildfire briefing]

"Please be extra cautious this fire season," said Ducey.

He warned that this year's dry winter could make for a tough fire season ahead.

"We expect these conditions to make the fire season especially challenging," said Ducey.

He noted that at January's end, Phoenix had seen only .44 inches of rain, making the winter the fourth driest start to the water year. The average is 2.85 inches.

[RELATED: Dry winter sparks governor's wildfire season concerns]

"We are concerned about this fire season," said State Forester Jeff Whitney. 

He asked the public to do its part in preventing fires.

"We all have a shared responsibility," Whitney said. "We encourage people to clean up their yards, do what you can in your neighborhoods, and have conversations."

Gov. Ducey said he plans to double the state's investment in fire prevention funding to $2 million.

"We will take every step possible to prepare for this fire season to protect people pets and property," he said.

The governor says the majority of Arizona's wildfires are caused by people's activities, such as dragging trailer chains that can spark. 

[SPECIAL SECTION: Arizona Wildfires]

Last year, more than 2,000 wildfires burned 400,000-plus acres across Arizona. Roughly, 100,000 more acres burned in 2017 than the previous year.
Of those 2,262 fires, a majority of those were human-caused.

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