Fire restrictions upped as summer arrives

Posted 12/31/69

Do your part to prevent wildfires.

That’s the message fire officials want to spread as fire season seems to be ramping up all over the Valley.

On June 1, the Arizona Fire and Medical …

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Fire restrictions upped as summer arrives

Posted

Do your part to prevent wildfires.

That’s the message fire officials want to spread as fire season seems to be ramping up all over the Valley.

On June 1, the Arizona Fire and Medical Authority announced the implementation of Stage II fire restrictions.

Residents cannot start or maintain an open campfire, an open charcoal grill or any wood stoves, AFMA officials said. The use of fireworks and target shooting also are prohibited, said Eric Kriwer, deputy chief of the Arizona Fire and Medical Authority.

Welding without a spark arrester or operating a torch with an open flame is also not allowed as current restrictions are in place.

“The one thing about Arizona is we’ll always have a fire season,” said Mr. Kriwer. “We are entering our peak.”

The fire department covers areas such as Sun City West, Sun Lakes, Tonopah and Wittmann.

Brent Fenton, spokesman for Daisy Mountain Fire Department that operates in northern Maricopa County, said on June 2 crews contained a fire that burned about 10 acres near Pioneer Road just west of Interstate 17. The fire burned for about two hours before it was contained.

The blaze is believed to be caused by people, Mr. Fenton said, though the exact cause is under investigation.

The department’s coverage area includes areas such as Anthem, Black Canyon City, Desert Hills and New River.

“Fire season it seems lately is starting earlier and earlier,” Mr. Fenton said. “... All the fuels have been curing for a serious amount of time now.”

Mr. Fenton, a firefighter of 17 years, said little things — a cigarette butt thrown out the window or a steel belt rubbing on the asphalt from a blown out tire — can ignite a blaze.

Many times people don’t take fire warnings from offi cials seriously. Usually fire season starts at the end of May and lasts until monsoon season. This year, crews responded to some fires in February, which he said was “very odd” fires would start early.

“It’s almost ignorance in a way,” Mr. Fenton said. “... We really want people to be mindful and heed the warnings we put out.”

He said fire fuel, weather and topography all play a factor in brush fires.

In Anthem, he said the primary cause of fires is humans. He attributes some fires to people shooting off illegal fireworks around the Fourth of July or juveniles lighting dry brush along nearby washes.

“Often times, (they’ll) walk away and the brush will start on fire.”

Salt River Project officials say residents should think about being safe and adhering to fire restrictions.

Elvy Barton, SRP forest health management principal, said the state’s forests are vulnerable to more fires because of overgrowth and a lot of dead trees caused by the nearly two-decade drought Arizona and the West have endured.

Ms. Barton said, often times, fires jump from tree to tree and can be devastate the watershed.

SRP manages the water supply from 8.3 million acres in northern Arizona. That watershed can get bogged down from dead branches and sediment started by fire. SRP is working on projects to thin the forest along the watershed.

“It creates a lot of fuel,” Ms. Barton said.

At home, fire officials say residents can do their part by clearing away debris and vegetation from homes to allow crews to operate should a fire break out near structures.

Officials recommend a 30-foot distance between their home and the nearest vegetation.

“There is so much people can do to protect themselves or their property,” Mr. Kriwer said.

Mr. Fenton agrees. Any preventative measures can help minimize the risk of fire danger.

“We are stressing that folks obey the fire restrictions,” he said.

 

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