Wildfire activity growing across Arizona due to recent dry, windy weather
PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- Experts are saying there is no such thing as a fire “season” anymore; it’s turning into more of a year-round event. The recent dry and windy weather has sparked multiple fires across the southwest within the last few days.
Resources from across the country are being used to fight fires in New Mexico and here in Arizona at the Crooks Fire near Prescott. “We are heading to a fire on the Prescott National Forest near Prescott. It’s an emerging incident already. Payson hotshots are en route,” said Patrick Moore, the Mesa Interagency Hotshot Crew superintendent.
The Mesa Hotshot crew is joining other units heading to northern Arizona to help with the Crooks Fire. They’re on their way from Ruidoso, New Mexico, after spending the last few days fighting the McBride Fire, which has spread over 6,000 acres and killed two people. Containment is now at 80 percent.
“If we’re already seeing this activity in New Mexico and West Texas, then that could be an indication of what we are in store for here in Arizona, and that’s obviously not a good sign,” said Tiffany Davila with the Arizona Department of Forestry and Fire Management.
Davila says last year’s active monsoon is now playing a significant role in fire activity this year. “It’s one of those double-edged swords where we get all of this precipitation we needed so badly, and now we just have an overgrowth of fuel in southern Arizona,” Davila said.
Crews are also out fighting the Old 80 Fire. It started Saturday night south of Buckeye Valley. The fire has burned more than 60 acres.
Patrick Moore with the Mesa Hotshot Crew says the need for hotshots has gone through the roof. “We are in what’s considered a national resource, so our job is, any fire that has basically exceeded local ability to control it, one of us hotshot crews could be sent to it,” Moore said. “Last year, we were assigned to fires in six different states and assigned over 135 days last year, so it’s pretty much go, go, go. Crews like ours are built specifically for intense fire situations and very difficult country.”
As fire activity increases, Davila urges the public to be mindful of their surroundings. “While there are no fire restrictions in place at this time, they are being discussed,” Davila said.
Davila says the department does fuel mitigation year-round all across the state, working to reduce potential fire activity in those high-risk areas.
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