Winds, drought, and high temperatures have combined to make Arizona's forests and desert areas EXTREMELYdry this year. Long term drought, changing fuel conditions and the resulting unpredictable fire behavior, combined with increased human activity suggest that this has the
potential to be a busy fire year. Conditions change; for your safety, stay informed on current and predicted conditions in your community, and when you are enjoying the outdoors.
THINK BEFORE YOU ACT!
It only takes one spark on dry grass, leaves, branches or pine needles to start a wildfire. Even live trees and brush are dry enough to easily ignite. Wildfires impact recreation areas and may destroy homes and cabins and threaten lives.
Chainsaws, broken glass, carelesssly tossed cigarettes, fireworks, abandoned campfires, catalytic converters, and discharge of firearms are all known causes of wildfire.
We offer the following tips to help ensure that unwanted person caused wildfires are kept to a minimum this year:
Warn others of potential dangers and behaviors for starting wildfires.
Fire restrictions vary, but most mean that no open fires are allowed except in established campgrounds with fire grills or pits. Some areas have prohibited all fires except gas or propane camp stoves, some restrict all types of flame.
In Arizona many areas, due to dry conditions will often enter into fire restrictions in late April or early May and typically rescend those seasonal restrictions in September or October. This is seasonally variable.
Check the weather and plan accordingly.
Take plenty of water for cooking, drinking AND putting out your campfire.
NEVER BURN WHEN WINDY
NEVER LEAVE YOUR FIRE UNATTENDED
IF IT'S TOO HOT TO TOUCH IT'S TOO HOT TO LEAVE.
Pausing or parking a car or truck in tall grass or over shrubs can start fires. This not only may damage your vehicle but may also start a quickly moving fire. Do not park where vegetation is touching the underside of your vehicle.
Also be sure that all vehicles and tires are in excellent working order; safety chains or other trailer equipment must not drag or dangle; these can get hot or create sparks causing not just one but multiple wildfires. Look behind you as your driving to make sure all is well. It's always a good idea to carry a fire extinguisher.
Grass burns quickly and dry,windy conditions can turn into a wall of flames in minutes.
Sparks from mowers, chainsaws, welding torches, and other equipment can cause wildfires.
Use spark arresters
Refrain from welding and use of activities or equipment that may create a spark when fire danger is high.
Follow fire restrictions and closures--in some areas chainsaws are not allowed.
A burning cigarette is a small fire ready to become a larger one.
Cigarettes are made to burn long and slowly and can start fires even hours after being dropped or thrown away. Never walk off and leave a burning cigarette and be aware of all smoking restrictions when recreating on public lands.
Fireworks are not permitted on public lands throughout the entire state.
Sparks from fireworks can cause wildfires in dry vegetation. Many cities and towns in Arizona have regulations that restrict the use of fireworks. Some towns and cities are including fireworks displays as part of their holiday celebrations. Please check your local newspaper for times and locations.
The target shooting and hunting community prides itself on being safe and responsible with firearms in all situations. Sometimes, however, extremely dry environments require an extra level of awareness and safety on the part of shooters.
During dry and hot weather conditions the use of certain ammunition and targets could accidentally ignite a wildfire. Target shooters and hunters, as well as other outdoor enthusiasts, need to consider the potential consequences of their activities in fire-prone environments. Here are some tips and reminders:
Make it a point to know the regulations and rules related to shooting in areas experiencing dry and hot conditions, whether on public or private land or at shooting ranges. Many federal public lands, for example, do not allow recreational shooting when fire restrictions are in effect.
Consider the type of ammunition and targets you are using. Minimize the risk of fires by not using steeljacketed ammunition, ammunition with steel-core components.
Shooting of tracer rounds or exploding targets is prohibited on most federal public lands year-round.
HOMES AND BUILDINGS
To a wildfire, your house or cabin in the country, if built of flammable materials, is only fuel. Wildfires do not discriminate between trees and cabins--if it is flammable it will burn. You can take steps to protect your home from a wildfire's flames by taking some simple steps to create defensible space, an area around your building that discourages fire from coming too near. Slope, vegetation types, planting design, location of outbuildings all affect a wildfire's ability to reach your home.
Defensible space can be created in many ways. For example you can:
plant fire resistant plants
space plants to slow the spread of fire from plant to plant
place wood piles and wooden picnic tables well away from buildings
keep roofs free of needles and leaves
screen openings under decks and attic and foundation vents