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Latest outlook shows increased fire danger for southern Arizona

Patton Fire burning southeast of Wickenburg
Posted at 6:36 PM, May 01, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-01 23:05:50-04

PHOENIX — The drought may have shown signs of improvement, but Arizona's wildfire potential continues to grow across some parts of the state.

Last year it was the Tinder Fire, sparked under extreme drought conditions. The year before that it was the Goodwin Fire started during just a moderate drought. According to Meteorologist Jaret Rogers, with the National Weather Service in Phoenix, wildfires can and will happen no matter what the drought status.

"The improvement in the drought conditions doesn't necessarily mean that we're going to see improvements in fire weather potential," said Rogers.

We've certainly come a long way from a year ago when the entire state was under drought conditions. Today, more than eighty percent of Arizona is considered drought-free--but that can be a catch-22.

"It can encourage new fuel to grow and that can lead to increased wildfire concern which we're expecting into the early parts of summer," said Rogers.

What was once green and colorful is withering away and that's what has officials concerned about some of the lower elevations.

The latest outlook released by the National Interagency Fire Center on Wednesday shows northern Arizona expecting near to even below normal fire potential in the coming months. The southern half of the state, however, could experience above average wildfire potential through July.

Captain Rob McDade with the Phoenix Fire Department says even the fuels in the Valley are abundant and ready to go up in flames.

"Any coal from any source of ignition, it's going to take off and all it' s going to want to do is consume fuel and head toward your house," said McDade.

McDade says you should take the preventative steps to protect your home by clearing the dry vegetation as soon as possible.