KINGMAN – Gov. Doug Ducey is requesting double funding for this year’s wildfire season, seeking to go from $1 million to $2 million in Arizona’s wildfire prevention budget.
In a telephone news conference Thursday, the governor said the state is taking every step possible to protect people and their property from wildfire losses.
“This year’s season is going to be different,” Ducey said, citing rainfall totals that are far below normal around the state. “There’s no beating around the bush this year. We expect these conditions to make the fire season especially challenging.”
Arizonans are all too familiar with the devastation that wildfire season can bring, with the “scar of the Yarnell 19 still fresh in our mind,” he added.
Along with increasing funding for ongoing costs, Ducey said he’s seeking additional federal funding to prepare for the fire season and minimize the impact of wildfires.
State Forester Jeff Whitney said he’s been extremely busy the last couple of weeks battling fires around the state, including the 3,000-acre Wilcox fire.
“It’s no surprise to any of us that we’re unusually dry and in the throes of a 21-year drought,” Whitney said. “Unfortunately, everything that burned in Arizona last year regrew with the recent monsoons. This is a very concerning year.”
The Department of Forestry and Fire Management will work with local, state and federal agencies to spend all the money available for removal of hazardous vegetation, he said.
It’s been a few years since Mohave County had a wildfire, but any additional funding would still be spread evenly across the five districts, Whitney said.
The last big fire in the county was the 2,000-acre Willow Fire in 2015 in Mohave Valley, which forced evacuation of 150 homes. The Dean Peak Fire burned 5,400 acres in the Hualapai Mountains in 2013.
Financial resources are critical to preparing for the fire season, especially given current drought conditions, so it’s important to get legislative support for fire management, Whitney added.
Ducey is asking for the public’s help to make it a safe season as the majority of wildfires are caused by humans.
Here are five tips to protect against wildfires:
- Put out the campfire. Take every precaution to make sure it doesn’t turn into a wildfire. Double-check the campfire to confirm it’s completely out before leaving the campsite. If the fire isn’t cool to the touch, then it’s not okay to leave.
- Trim your trees, cut plants, mow your grass. Be proactive when it comes to trimming down dead or dying tree limbs around your property. Cut any high grass and create “defensible” space against fires. A wildfire knows no boundaries.
- Don’t feed the fire. Always make sure to keep flammable materials away from your property. Move wood piles, propane tanks, and anything else flammable around your property so a bad situation doesn’t get worse.
- Don’t drag chains. Make sure to store chains tightly and avoid letting them dangle off the bed of your truck. Even one spark from a chain is enough to start a fire.
- Knowledge is power. Be aware of the many public resources that are available to you online. Go to wildlandfire.az.gov for more information.