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Closures, Fuels Reduction Helped AZ Avoid a Potentially Calamitous 2018 Fire Season

Arizona Department of Forestry and Fire Management

Arizona avoided a potentially calamitous fire season in 2018 after a record-setting dry winter and spring. State fire officials say proactive prevention measures reduced wildfire impacts. KNAU’s Ryan Heinsius reports.

The Department of Forestry and Fire Management credits the early implementation of fire restrictions and temporary closures of particularly vulnerable areas. They also say fuels reduction and thinning projects prevented what many were predicting to be a severe fire season.

In 2018, 165,000 acres of state, federal, private and tribal land burned—a substantial drop from the previous year in which wildfires charred nearly 420,000 acres.

In addition, about 2,000 wildfires ignited in Arizona last year, which was about 200 fewer than 2017. As majority of those were human caused.

State fire managers say fuels reduction projects continue even as most work on federal land has been delayed during the government shutdown.

Ryan Heinsius was named interim news director and managing editor in January 2024. He joined KNAU's newsroom as an executive producer in 2013. He covers a broad range of stories from local, state and tribal politics to education, economy, energy and public lands issues, and frequently interviews internationally known and regional musicians. Ryan is an Edward R. Murrow Award winner and a Public Media Journalists Association Award winner, and a frequent contributor to NPR's Morning Edition, All Things Considered and national newscast.
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