WITTMANN, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -- About 50 people showed up to a meeting to discuss the inevitable wildfire season in Wittmann and Wickenburg.

So far this year, five brush fires scorched about 5,000 acres total near Wittmann.

"I have never seen this many fires," said Barb Wilkins, who has lived in the area for the last 15 years. "I just want to know what we're doing. So, what are we doing about it? Where do we go from here? I mean, I don't want my house to burn down. I don't want my neighbor's house to burn down. So, what can we do, and how can we help?"

[WATCH: Firefighters talk fire prevention, exit plans at community meeting in Wittmann]

Fire officials say it comes down to defensible space and having a plan.

"If you have a lot of overgrown brush at your home or your residence borders that brush, you need to work on clearing that brush, and you need to understand that you can't burn the brush when you take it down. You need to have it chipped or hauled away," said Deputy Chief Eric Kriwer with the Arizona Fire & Medical Authority.

Even though there is a current restriction on open burning, Kriwer said it can also pose a problem.

"People need to understand that you cannot burn in Maricopa County. There's no open burning. A lot of folks in some of these outlying areas have a misconception they can burn their yard cuttings and some of those things," Kriwer said. "Drilling, welding on pipes, working on fences--It's really important folks understand that they need to help us prevent the start because what we're noticing is that if it starts, it's moving really rapid."

Kriwer urges residents to call authorities if they see anyone burning or using ignition sources.

"We've got properties that are overgrown, trash being dumped out in the desert," said Ken Diedrich, a Wittmann resident. "We've got a lot of reports of people doing mischief, causing damage out in the desert, lighting their bonfires, burning your fire pits. I mean, it's common sense. You don't burn right now."

Of course, not all fires can be prevented with monsoon 2019 around the corner.

Kriwer said residents should clear about 30 feet of defensible space around their home and have an exit plan.

"They need to be ready. They need to have their personal belongings ready to go," said Kriwer. "A plan for their pets and have an exit strategy so we can bring the firefighters in to mitigate the fire while it's small and they can escape without having to cross paths with each other."

 


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(1) comment

Amico

do you really want to know how prevent wildfires? you go cut dead trees and keep clean the risky areas before the summer is here it's called wildfires forest management the one your pay with your taxes but they're not doing their job that is why you're dealing with so many wildfires

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