More homes threatened by wildfire as Arizona's drought rages on

Posted: Updated:
(Source: 3TV/CBS 5) (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
(Source: 3TV/CBS 5) (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)

The Tinder Fire is a prime example of the fragile state Arizona's land is in.  A lack of rain and snow has created a disastrous potential for homes to go up in flames without any warning.

In a north Phoenix community off Tatum and Jomax, wildland firefighters spent Wednesday morning cutting down dead trees and hauling away dry brush surrounding 1,100 homes.

[SLIDESHOW: Tinder Fire erupts in Coconino County]

The goal is to create a safety buffer zone for those who live there. Should a fire erupt, the crispy vegetation would serve as fuel.

“A wildfire can happen anywhere. It doesn’t matter if you’re in northern Arizona or down south. It can happen here too," said Tiffany Davila of the Arizona Department of Forestry and Fire Management.

[RELATED: Tinder Fire latest: Firefighters gain ground, 12% contained, 12,200+ acres burned]

Despite a storm that moved through this week, 95 percent of Arizona is under severe drought.

“That’s a drop in a huge bucket. It’s not going to do much at this point," said Davila.

Davila described the agency's “Firewise” program as an effort to help prevent homes from destruction, like the fate of some 30 lost in the Tinder Fire.

[SPECIAL SECTION: Arizona Wildfires]

"If your property is overgrown with trees, if you’ve got overgrown grass and shrubs, and all of this hazardous material on the property, they’re less likely to be able to save your property, and there’s also a safety factor. We’re not going to send a firefighter into those areas, because it’s a risk, a huge risk," said Davila.

Fire officials recommend homeowners clear a defensible space of at least 30 feet around their properties. That means remove all dead plants, grass and weeds, trim trees, keep lawns cut and watered and remove patio furniture, wood piles or anything else that can ignite.

State Forestry officials expect to get two million dollars in next year’s budget to continue their clean-up efforts, if the legislature approves it.

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