We’re still in the winter months, but Arizona has already seen its first wildfire of the year, signaling a high risk for fires in the coming months.
Just this week, The Ranch Fire burned more than 1,600 acres near Concho, Arizona. It was at 95% containment as of Wednesday.
Arizona State Forestry says the fire ignited Tuesday and was fueled by grass and high winds. It is believed to be human-caused but is still under investigation.
Crews assigned to #RanchFire near #Concho have stopped its forward progress. 1,000 acres & 60% contained. Human-caused; #AZForestry investigator ordered & en route. #AZFire #ApacheCounty @Az311Info pic.twitter.com/iwSAtPbWed— AZ State Forestry (@azstateforestry) March 2, 2022
While crews worked to contain that blaze, the National Interagency Fire Center released the 2022 Fire Season Outlook, noting “above average” fuel conditions, and drier and warmer weather.
The report released Wednesday says the state is experiencing “above normal significant wildland fire potential” in southeast Arizona this month. They expect that to spread into central Arizona by April and in the Four Corners region of the state by May. The risk will then spread into Yavapai County by June, experts say.
In fact, predictions show that most of Arizona will be in the "above normal" category by June.
Comparing current state drought conditions to 2021, NWS says we have improved, but with below-normal precipitation so far this year, those improved conditions are deteriorating. At this point last year, conditions were reportedly improving.
Peak fire season is expected in the hottest and driest parts of the year especially when we see those triple-digit temperatures.
Last year, Arizona saw 1,602 wildfires that burned 595,135 acres.
At the end of March, we will start to see social media campaigns to prepare residents for the upcoming wildfire potential this year and ways to prevent wildfires.