LIVE BLOG: Tracking Wildfires in Arizona

Denzel Boyd/The Copper Courier

By Bree Burkitt
April 30, 2021

Bookmark this page for the latest updates on conditions, closures, and evacuations.

Arizona had one of the driest monsoon seasons in history last year alongside a number of record-breaking wildfires—and 2021 isn’t expected to be much different.

Much of the state is currently in a state of drought, resulting in dry conditions ripe for fires.

Last year, most of the wildfires were actually human-caused. Arizonans should do their part to prevent starting a wildfire, like ensuring campfires are completely out, properly stowing tow chains, and making sure car tires are properly inflated and in good condition to prevent blowouts.

Wednesday, May 12

More Forests Announce Fire Restrictions

Three more Arizona forests announced fire restrictions to prevent human-caused wildfires.

The Coconino, Kaibab, and Tonto national forests issued coordinated statements Wednesday announcing that those forests would implement stage-one fire restrictions, with the latest starting Friday.

They join the Apache-Sitgreaves and Prescott forests, which rolled out restrictions earlier this month.

Stage one restrictions limit campfires to established metal grates and fire pits in designated campgrounds and picnic areas. Additionally, smoking is only allowed inside a car or in a three-foot area cleared of all flammable material. Target shooting and fireworks also aren’t allowed.

Friday, May 7

Fire Restrictions Start Friday in Some Arizona National Forests

Some Arizona forests have already implemented fire restrictions with the hope of preventing wildfires.

Stage one fire restrictions went into effect Friday morning on state forest land in eastern Arizona’s Navajo and Apache counties. This includes popular recreation areas near Heber-Overgaard, Greer, Snowflake, and Show Low.

Stage one restrictions limit campfires to established metal grates and fire pits in designated campgrounds and picnic areas. Additionally, smoking is only allowed inside a car or in a three-foot area cleared of all flammable material. Target shooting and fireworks also aren’t allowed.

This is done in an attempt to “reduce the risk of human-caused wildfires during periods of high fire danger and elevated fire weather conditions,” according to the Department of Agriculture.

This is the first restriction implemented so far this year. However, it’s likely others will soon follow given the current dry weather coupled with hot temperatures in most of the state.

Unless lifted early, the restrictions will be in effect until Dec. 31.

https://www.facebook.com/arizonastateforestry/photos/a.868032449957137/3995331560560528/
Friday, April 30

Arizona Facing Another Potentially Devastating Wildfire Season

Officials are preparing for what could be another historic wildfire season—yet again.

Wildfires ravaged close to 980,000 acres in Arizona in 2020, the second-highest year for total acres burned. 

“Most of the state is experiencing extreme to exceptional drought,” said John Truett, the fire management officer for the Department of Forestry and Fire Management. “We’re looking at a very severe potential out there for wildland fires and rapid fire spread across the landscape.”

The conditions this year mirror those of the record-breaking 2020 season. There’s still little snowpack in the ponderosa pine forests covering vast swaths of northern and eastern Arizona. Central and southern Arizona face their own problems with sizable areas of grasslands that have instead seen years of growth dried out by low rainfall. 

Historically, Arizona’s wildfire season starts in the late spring and lasts until the Monsoon season hits or the fall when temperatures cool. But crews statewide are bracing for an early fire season in central and southern Arizona that will likely escalate as temperatures heat up.

The Flag Fire in northwestern Arizona already forced hundreds to evacuate from an area south of Kingman, while a number of other minor fires have consumed hundreds of acres in recent weeks. 

This trend will likely continue, and there’s still the potential for widespread fire activity by June, officials warned. 

That will only get worse if there’s a repeat of last year, when the summer monsoon rains failed to materialize, leading to an extended fire season that lasted well into the fall. 

Most wildfires are human-caused, and Gov. Doug Ducey urged Arizonans to do their part to stop new ignitions, especially as many head north from the Valley to fish, camp, or just escape the Valley’s hot summer temperatures. 

“We all have a role to play in protecting our forests and communities and minimizing the risk of wildfires,” Ducey said

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CATEGORIES: Arizona | Climate | Safety

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