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Arizona Could Be In For Early Fire Season, Officials Say

Arizona forest officials released the 2021 fire outlook on Monday — and they are preparing for the possibility of an early wildfire season.

Wildfires happen throughout the year in Arizona, but an increase typically starts to happen at the end of April. That’s according to Tiffany Davila, a spokesperson for the Arizona Department of Forestry and Fire Management.

Hear Fire Management Officer John Truett With Hoste Steve Goldstein And Mark Brodie On The Show

wildfire-season-show-sg-20210324.mp3

Davila said this year's La Niña weather system in the Pacific has led to a dry winter. Due to the drought and the lack of precipitation, that could mean an increase in wildfires for Arizona earlier than usual. 

“The lack of precipitation, the severe drought status across the state and then we still have a carry over of the heavy grass mat in some unburned areas across the central region and the southern portion of the state,” says Davila.

Davila says Arizona is prepared to fight the fires. 

“The forest service brings down crews from across the state. We’ll get engines here from California and Oregon and Washington. When they're not busy — they don’t have their wildfire season yet — they’ll come down here and help us, and then we’ll return the favor when we’re coming out of our fire season.”

Davila says sometimes other states may not have all the resources they requested, but they will be able to send what they can. She says Arizona has resources on hand to help fight fires such as engines, equipment and hand crews.

2020 had the second worst wildfire season in Arizona history. Last year, more than 2,500 wildfires burned close to one million acres across the state.

For more on this year's wildfire outlook, The Show spoke with Department of Forestry Fire Management Officer John Truett.

Amanda Day
Amanda Day was an intern at KJZZ in 2021.