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Trusted local news leader for Kingman, Arizona & Mohave County
7:32 AM Fri, Nov. 16th

Hot weather brings fire season upon us

Going from a cool wet winter and early spring to suddenly hot weather could prove a headache to Mohave County rural fire departments.

During the spring, the Kingman area has experienced lush growth of wild grasses, plants and flowers.

The area's normal fire season begins in May and lasts until late August.

But with temperatures suddenly in the high 90s, vegetation quickly dries out and becomes a potential fuel source for a brush fire, Pinion Pine fire Chief Joe Jackson said.

"People have to suddenly change their mindset and take precaution this time of year," Jackson said.

About 60 percent of wildfires are caused by nature or lightning.

People cause the remainder by carelessly tossing cigarettes, dumping car ashtrays along the side of the road or by controlled burns that get away, Jackson said.

Just this week Pinion Pine firefighters responded to three small brush fires along Interstate 40 east of Kingman, each probably ignited by a carelessly tossed cigarette.

Pinion Pine personnel joined other local and state firefighters in containing a 270-acre fire Wednesday near Wikieup that began Monday morning when a rancher burned dead brush on his property.

If property owners burn tree stumps and other vegetation and the fires get out of control outside of their property, they could be financially responsible not only for damage fires cause but for the cost of putting them out, Jackson said.

Lightning without the moisture is the worse culprit of brush fires caused by nature.

A dry lightning storm can spark a series of small fires throughout a large area.

However, a rain-laden monsoon storm can eliminate that fire danger just as quickly, he said.

Last summer's twin fires in the Hualapai Mountains, which burned nearly 800 acres, were started by dry lightning

Monsoons normally begin around the Fourth of July and last through the summer.

Residents can reduce the threat of a devastating brush fire by clearing safety zones around residences and other structures.

They should remove dead leaves from roofs, gutters and lawns and trim overhanging branches, Jackson said.

Residents in rural areas especially in mobile homes should have outside access to a water supply, he added.

John Colclazer, Mohave County Park superintendent, said this year is looking better than last but that the Hualapai Mountains are still dry and visitors should be careful about smoking.

Colclazer said there already has been a small brush fire cause by a visitor leaving a burning cigarette at a campsite.