Arizona wildfire season underway

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Wildfire season is upon us here in Arizona. We already have several fires burning across the state.

More rains and snow over the last couple of years means more fuel for fires. Areas south of the Mogollon Rim, within the Tonto National Forest and across the Sonoran landscapes, down into the Catalinas and Cochise County, may see increased fire activity due to the amount of grass and brush in those areas.

To take a look at what the Forestry and Fire Management team is doing this season to protect homes and land, we spoke with John Truett, a Fire Management Officer with the Arizona Department of Forestry and Fire Management.

“This year, with the amount of rains we had and intermittent rains we’ve had, we have a substantial grass crop, continuous grass crop across the lower desert and the Sonoran Desert,” Truett said. “Up high, we had a little bit more snow, so it’s maybe going to delay the fire season a little bit but now that we’re drying out, some things are starting to catch up, they’re drying up in higher elevations.”

Truett says that we are starting to see fires that are being driven by intermittent winds. He added that we are about a week out from these fires carrying through the night and are on the cusp of having some large fires.

“The wind is the driver of the fire,” Truett said. “The fuels can drive it, create its own wind, but the winds that we’ve had just carry it on and keep that spread going. The fire is able to find that fuel of opportunity because of the winds that are created.”

According to Truett, this year’s fire season is expected to be longer. Monsoon season will likely not be enough to rehydrate the vegetation which will bring an early onset of a fall fire season.

John Truett, Fire Management Officer, AZ Department of Forestry and Fire Management

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