Wildfire season is underway in Arizona

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Wildfire season is here. John Truett, State Management Officer at the Arizona Department of Forestry and Fire Management, joined Arizona Horizon to discuss what to expect in the coming weeks.

This year, Arizona saw a delay in fire season because of the cool, moist spring we experienced. The most critical time in the fire season is happening right now, when it’s usually supposed to be the tail end of it.

Right now, Arizona is at Planning Level 5, which is the most extreme level of planning. This means that there are extra resources in place to combat wildfires.

The lower elevations are getting special attention right now because of the grass crops we’ve had through the late monsoons last year and the wet spring, Truett said.

“Our higher elevations are holding well with the green-up and the more-than-abundant moisture we’ve had up in the higher elevations. So our lower elevations are what we’re really concentrating on right now,” Truett said.

Concerning the forecast in the coming weeks, the higher elevations are coming into play, but the longer the monsoons hold off, then the whole state will come into play, according to Truett.

“Right now, with the extreme temperatures we have going on, it really affects our ground and our workforce. We have to double up those resources. You can’t expose those folks out there for too long, so you have to rotate them in. And then what’s going on, at least now with the higher humidities, the finer fuels will absorb some of that moisture, so it’s kind of putting a little bit of a damper on the grass crop. But our brush, the bigger fuels, are ready to go, so now they’re carrying the fire,” Truett said.

For homeowners, the best way to protect property and to keep fires from spreading is to do hazard reduction and keep the vegetation cut down low. That will help firefighters come in and protect the structure, Truett said.

John Truett, State Management Officer at Arizona Department of Forestry and Fire Management

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