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Ducey: Arizona Facing Most Dangerous Wild Fire Season In Years

Arizona could face the most dangerous fire season in years.

After a briefing by fire officials, Gov. Doug Ducey said Wednesday morning that the conditions are excellent for a major conflagration.

"Two years with minimal fire, above-average rainfall, coupled with our existing fuels problem, has led to an abundance of fine fuels," he said. "A high number of tourists we can expect this time of year also equals more opportunity for wildland fire."

State Forester Jeff Whitney said conditions now are similar to what they were at this time in 2002 when the Rodeo-Chedeski fire burned 468,000 acres and in 2011 when the Wallow Fire consumed more than 538,000 acres.

"A few of us have been around awhile. And we've seen these kinds of springtime conditions in the setup. And we remember those years and the fires we were on in those years," Whitney said.

He said the goal now is to find a balance. Sometimes the best decision is to let the fire go. But he said there also has to be a risk analysis. And that requires firefighters to use the tools they have to make some predictions.

"If we look at a fire and we say, you know what, it's going to get hotter and drier and the wind's going to blow up here in about three days, and it's kind of locked in the gun sights of Pine-Strawberry as an example, or Payson or Flagstaff or the Williams area, the Williams watershed, we gotta go get it."

He said during peak fire season the decision is more likely to fight a blaze. But Whitney said at the end of the season the decision might be to let an area burn and not put firefighters in harm's way.

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