Mesa fire experts explain how to prevent causing a fire ahead of extreme heat

We haven’t had rain in months, so the dozens of wildfires we’ve seen this year could be just a preview of what’s to come.
Published: Jun. 8, 2022 at 5:35 PM MST
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MESA, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) - Extreme heat means everything is about to get a lot drier. We haven’t had rain in months, so the dozens of wildfires we’ve seen this year could be just a preview of what’s to come.

It’s why Arizona’s fire prevention education is telling the public about wildfire response and preparedness. “We call these one-hour fuels. One little spark on this and it can take off,” said Brad Bramlett, a member of the National Fire Prevention Team.

Dry grass, or what experts call fuel, can be found along highways all over the state. “In just a matter of minutes, especially in high winds, this could just take off,” said Bramlett.

Those extreme fire conditions are already straining resources. Bramlett said more than half of the fires in Arizona are human-caused. That’s why his agency is partnering with the U.S. Forest Service to educate people. “If you’re going down the road and your chain is dragging the ground, that spark gets over on a windy day and a blows a spark up over into the grass, it can ignite a fire,” he said.

If people do start fires that quickly spread, the Mesa Gateway Air Tanker Base has a dispatch center that will send help. “Putting this base here, it’s a centrally located base in Arizona that allows us to have a good pivot point of the whole Southwest to be able to respond to these fires,” said Chris Price, the Base Manager. He said every year, the fire season grows longer. Although we’re off to a slow fire season, they expect it to pick up during monsoon season because of lightning.

Saturday marks National Get Outdoors Day. As you plan your weekend activities, check the fire restrictions in place for each public lands agency on their website or Facebook page, and educate yourself on how to safely recreate outdoors during fire season. Here are some tips:

  • Know how to secure your trailer chains to prevent sparks. Make sure vehicle is properly maintained with nothing dragging on the ground.
  • Check your tire pressure. Driving on an exposed wheel rim throws sparks.
  • Maintain vehicle brakes and never let your brake pads wear too thin. Metal on metal makes sparks.
  • Never pull off the highway and park on dry grass. Vehicles parked too closely to vegetation start fires.