Southwest Wildfire Awareness Week: Don’t Wait for Wildfires to Start, Prepare and Be Aware

Each year, nine out of ten wildfires across the country are started by people. In 2021, 71% of Arizona’s fires were human-caused. As the temperatures start to rise and vegetation starts to dry out, the state will begin to see an increase in fire activity. Therefore, it is extremely important for residents and visitors to do their part to prevent wildfires.

This week is Southwest Wildfire Awareness Week and this year’s theme is, “Don’t Wait for Wildfires to Start, Prepare and Be Aware.” Preparedness is key for wildfire prevention. Residents should start cleaning up their yards and removing debris from around their property, including the rooftops, to protect their homes. It is also imperative for people to sign up for emergency alerts through their county’s Emergency Management Office. Be aware; do not wait until you see smoke in the air.

This year, the Arizona Department of Forestry and Fire Management, the Bureau of Land Management, the USDA Forest Service, and Arizona State Parks and Trails are rolling out a new prevention campaign with the help of Smokey Bear and friends. The campaign, “Teaming up for Wildfire Prevention,” features some famous Arizona faces. The campaign will roll out on agency social media platforms and on billboards throughout the state. In addition, the Arizona Department of Transportation will be including wildfire prevention messages on their overhead highway signs. On Thursday, DFFM will hold the agency’s annual Wildland Fire Outlook Briefing with Governor Ducey at the State Capitol.

Due to increasing temperatures, a continuous and fine fuel bed in areas, and lack of winter precipitation, the 2022 fire outlook indicates high fire activity across Southern Arizona and throughout the Sonoran Desert. Last year, 1,760 wildfires burned 524,428 acres on state, federal, and tribal lands. In 2020, 2,519 fires burned 978,520 acres on all land jurisdictions.

Wildfire Prevention Tips:

  • Ensure campfires are out cold. Drown, stir, and repeat
  • Make sure vehicles and tires are properly maintained before getting on the road
  • Never pull a vehicle off the road into tall grasses
  • Target shooting and fireworks are prohibited on State Trust Land
  • Check the weather! Have a water source and shovel nearby if doing any outdoor activity involving fire. On windy
    days, avoid burning or using tools that may spark
  • Create defensible space around your property. Remove dead or dying vegetation, keep the lawn watered and
    mowed, remove leaf litter from rooftops, remove flammable material away from your property

It is important people prepare now and not wait until it is too late. Sign up for emergency alerts and have a “Go Bag” ready with essential items, like prescription medication, snacks and water, money and credit cards, and flash drives that contain copies of important documents. People should also familiarize themselves with Ready, Set, Go, and in the event of an emergency, listen to instructions given by law enforcement and first responders.

Southwest Wildfire Awareness Week is March 27 – April 2.

For more information, contact Tiffany Davila at 602-540-1036 or by email at tdavila@dffm.az.gov

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