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Wildfire Awareness Week: what to know going into wildfire season

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Wildfire Awareness Week
Posted at 4:27 PM, Mar 30, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-30 20:23:42-04

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — Arizona's Department of Forestry and Fire Management predicts fire activity will be high this year.

"We didn't really have a lot of precipitation over the Winter, so that's really drying out the fuel, if it isn't already dry across Southern Arizona and the Sonoran Desert," said Tiffany Davila with the Arizona Department of Forestry and Fire Management. "We're already starting to see early activity in the areas of Pima, Cochise and Santa Cruz counties."

In 2021, 71% of the state's wildfires were started by people. Fire officials predict the 2022 wildfire season will be similar to last year.

"It really does take all of us to prevent wildfires," said Davila.

That's why the department is teaming up with Arizona State Parks this Wildfire Awareness Week.

Nearly two dozen fire departments from across Central Arizona took part in the first day of wildland fire training on Wednesday.

To work on the frontlines of wildfires, wildland firefighters must take annual refresher courses and perform work capacity tests.

The field training includes structure protection exercises, engine and water pump operations, communications drills and fire shelter deployment.

110 firefighters with the Central Arizona Wildland Response Team worked with federal, state and tribal agencies.

Spreading a message about safety has become even more pressing as wildfire season approaches.

"When you're in a park, you may think you're in an area that's ranger controlled, everything is going to be fine and you're going to do your thing, but you do need to be extra careful," said Michelle Thompson with Arizona State Parks.

For park visitors, preventing a wildfire can be as simple as double checking your surroundings.

"Making sure that campfire is out, making sure your tow chains are secure," said Davila. "Know before you go. Check the fire restrictions website. Know where you're going. There's no target shooting on state land. If you're going out, know which jurisdiction you're going to."

Protecting your home before a wildfire starts is also key.

"We need people to create defensible space around their properties, especially if they live in the wildland urban interface," said Davila. "That's a safeguard, a barrier, between your home and a potential wildfire."

There's no better time to start getting prepared than now.

"Everyone does need to take their own responsibility when they're out recreating, so we can keep our state safe this Summer and all year long," said Thompson.