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Thursday, May 12, 2011

Preparedness By the Pound

An Ounce of Prevention is Worth a Pound of Cure--Ben Franklin

During summers in Arizona it can sometimes feel like the entire state is burning. Sometimes it actually is…

Over the past few weeks, we’ve become familiar with the names Bull, Greaterville, Inception, Locust, Picket and Horseshoe Two—all wildland fires that collectively caused road and trail closures, the opening of Red Cross shelters, evacuations and re-evacuations.

Most Arizonans are strangely accustomed to wildfire. They don’t wig out when they see a story about a fire in the news. That is not to say people don't care. Unfortunately, it's usually not their first exposure to images of thrashing flames and smoke plumes.

There have had some bona fide conflagrations in the Grand Canyon State’s history. Remember the Rodeo-Chediski Fire of June 2002? It burned over 460,000 acres, forced the evacuation of Northern Arizona communities, and cost something like $43 million.

But, again, that was in June. Historically, June is when Arizona sees most of its big fires—the Brins Fire (2006), the Cave Creek Complex (2005) and the original Horseshoe Fire (2010). (see Judy’s 2010 blog entry, A Few Anniversaries We Don’t Want to Repeat)

Granted we usually see a few fires in early to mid-May, but it’s been extraordinarily busy for this time of year for AzEIN; that’s to say nothing of the labors of the crews doing the actual firefighting day in, day out. What’s disconcerting is that fire season goes for another couple months.

What’s the deal?!

Like it or not (put me in the “Not Like” category), it’s getting warmer outside, the winds are picking up (i.e., Red Flag warnings) and the desert is parched, which means the grasses and shrubbery that make the Sonoran Desert a desert are dried out. Add low humidity to the mix and you’ve got a perfect storm conditions for wildfire.

By Memorial Day most of the state, including state trust and Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) lands, national forests and parks, Bureau of Land Management (BLM) holdings and national wildlife refuges, will be under some degree of fire restrictions. In most cases, fire restrictions mean no fires outside of developed campgrounds, limitations on smoking and absolutely no fireworks. If you’ve got questions, call 877-864-6985.

And if you do build a campfire in one of those designated areas, knowing how to put it out is a must:

video

Consequently, we beg…we plead…we implore that you mind the fire danger where you live and when you visit public lands, heed legislated fire restrictions, and practice good fire sense. A good place to start is http://www.azein.gov

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