Forest managers in northern Arizona are mobilizing resources and staff for the upcoming fire season. Arizona Public Radio’s Ryan Heinsius reports, they’re expecting mostly normal conditions.
Meteorologists with the Southwest Coordination Center are forecasting average moisture and slightly above average temperatures. Though May and June are considered the most critical months for fire danger in the region, officials say early spring precipitation is the key factor for anticipating wildfire danger.
"It really remains to be seen what kind of moisture do we get in the next five or six weeks as to the severity of the fuels and the severity of the fire season," says Vic Morfin, Fuels Specialist for the Coconino National Forest. "If we get a fair bit of moisture that’ll dampen things, but if it stays real dry then everything’s crispy."
Morfin says large wildfires can ignite under otherwise normal conditions, and that wind and abandoned campfires are major catalysts. Fire danger throughout the region is currently low to moderate, but crews have already responded to the first wildfires of the season.
The Coconino has hired about 100 seasonal firefighters, and they’ll be fully trained by April 15.