LB - Lamb Auto 0803 Nissan Better Dealership

Home | Classifieds | Place Ad | Public Notices | Galleries | Kudos | Obits | Real Estate | Subscriber Services | Villager | Health Directory | Contact Us
The Verde Independent | Cottonwood, Arizona

home : latest news : regional September 27, 2016


4/20/2013 3:01:00 PM
New "average': Wildfire seasons aren't what they used to be
Coconino National Forest fire information officer Dick Fleishman says the definition of an average fire season in Arizona has changed since he started with the U.S. Forest Service 33 years ago. Drought and forest density have contributed to that change, he said. (Cronkite News Service Photo by Julia Shumway)
Coconino National Forest fire information officer Dick Fleishman says the definition of an average fire season in Arizona has changed since he started with the U.S. Forest Service 33 years ago. Drought and forest density have contributed to that change, he said. (Cronkite News Service Photo by Julia Shumway)
A sign urges visitors to fully extinguish campfires in the Coconino National Forest. (Cronkite News Service Photo by Julia Shumway)
A sign urges visitors to fully extinguish campfires in the Coconino National Forest. (Cronkite News Service Photo by Julia Shumway)

Preventing fires
• Check with the agency in charge of the land to see what fire restrictions or closures are in effect.

• Fully extinguish any campfires.

• Use portable stoves only in aareas that are clear of grass and other fine fuels.

• Take any cigarette butts or other burned materials out of the camping area when you leave.

• If you see suspicious smoke or fire, report it immediately.

• Don't drive or park in tall, dry vegetation because the hot vehicle could start a fire.

Source: National Park Service

By Julia Shumway
Cronkite News Service

FLAGSTAFF - As the 35-acre Fisher Point fire burned in a canyon just a few miles south of his office, Coconino National Forest fire information officer Dick Fleishman said he anticipates an average fire season.

But average means something far different than when he started with the U.S. Forest Service 33 years ago. Persistent drought and denser forests make even a routine fire season more severe.

"Twenty years ago, we would have said Fisher Point was large," he said.

Arizona's wildfire season is at its peak from May through July. High winds, hot temperatures and low precipitation can extend or worsen the season, Fleishman said.

"The real hard fire season is when it's hot, dry and windy all at once," he said.

The whole state faces these conditions in varying degrees this year, said Carrie Dennett, state fire prevention and information officer at the Arizona State Forestry Division.

She said southeastern Arizona has already had several wildfires. The state as a whole is preparing for an average fire season, Dennett said, but there's no clear definition of just what average is.

"The last 10 years of fire history that we've had in the United States have kind of redefined what fire is," she said. "Average or normal is kind of a moving target"

Most predictions are just educated guessing, she said.

"It's taking past history and current conditions and then making inferences about where we're going," she said.

These predictions are handled on the federal level by the Southwest Coordination Center in Albuquerque, N.M. The center bases its seasonal fire predictions on five factors: droughts, fine fuels condition, seasonal temperatures, spring and early summer weather patterns and monsoons.

It expects the long-term drought across the Southwest to worsen during the summer. Despite the drought, Arizona's wet 2012 monsoons and a wetter winter could lead to more new growth, providing fine fuels.

Overall, the center expects southeastern Arizona to see above-normal potential for fires from May to June. The northwestern parts of the state will likely see higher fire potential in June and July.

This coincides with Arizona's prime hiking and camping season. Michelle Fidler, fire communication and education specialist at the National Park Service, said campers just need to be careful.

"The most important thing is to check local conditions," she said. "Check with the local ranger office to see if wildfires are in the area and to see what different restrictions are."

Fireworks are banned at all times on federal lands, and restrictions on campfires and other fire hazards vary from park to park.

In Flagstaff, officials focus on education. The region expects a dry and windy summer, but determining how bad the season will actually be depends on the number of fires.

People cause almost all fires that start before the summer monsoon season brings lightning, said Mark Brehl, wildland fire leadworker at the Flagstaff Wildland Fire Management office.

The most common cause is improperly extinguishing campfires, but cigarettes, the use of power tools and even sparks from chains on trailers can ignite fires.

"We encourage people to be safer when they're out in the woods," Brehl said. "No one wants to be responsible for starting a large fire that burns homes and destroys lives, so we really encourage people to be cautious this year."

While Flagstaff's greatest natural threat is wildfire, Brehl said the area around the city is relatively safe because of aggressive efforts to restore the forest to its natural state. These include prescribed burning, or starting smaller, controlled fires to clear out brush and dead plants that serve as fuel.

Keeping fires away from developed areas is crucial because fighting them becomes far more complicated when they approach areas where buildings meet forest, Fleishman said.

"It's like real estate," he said. "It's location, location, location."

Fires that get too close to settled areas shift firefighters' focus from containing the fire to protecting buildings, he said.

For Brehl, keeping the state safe from dangerous fires is simple.

"If you have any doubt about having a fire, don't have one," he said. "You can still enjoy the forest without having a fire."



EDITOR'S NOTE: Cronkite NewsWatch reporter Kelsea Wasung contributed to this report.


ICT - Taylor Waste

    Most Viewed     Recently Commented
•   Armed Cornville man confronts burglar; suspect begs homeowner not to shoot (4394 views)

•   Young BB-gun car shooter sentenced (2630 views)

•   LeMain Development stirs up controversy over limited parking, balconies, building height (2137 views)

•   Colorado Springs mayor urges Arizonans to vote No on legalized marijuana (1967 views)

•   Court Docket Sept. 22, 2016 (1940 views)





Article Comment Submission Form
Comments are not posted immediately. Submissions must adhere to our Use of Service Terms of Use agreement. Rambling or nonsensical comments may not be posted. Comments are limited to Facebook character limits. In order for us to reasonably manage this feature we may limit excessive comment entries.
Submit an Article Comment
First Name:
Required
Last Name:
Required
Telephone:
Required
Email:
Required
Comment:
Required
Passcode:
Required
Anti-SPAM Passcode Click here to see a new mix of characters.
This is an anti-SPAM device. It is not case sensitive.
   


Advanced Search

HSE - We want to hear from you
Find more about Weather in Cottonwood, AZ
Click for weather forecast





Submission Links
 •  Submit your feedback about our site

Find It Features Blogs Celebrate Submit Extras Other Publications Local Listings
Classifieds | Place Ad | Galleries | Kudos | Real Estate | Subscriber Services | e-News | RSS | Site Map | Find Verde Jobs | Contact Us
LB - Lamb Auto 0803 Nissan Better Dealership

© Copyright 2016 Western News&Info, Inc.® The Verde Independent is the information source for Cottonwood and Verde Valley area communities in Northern Arizona. Original content may not be reprinted or distributed without the written permission of Western News&Info, Inc.® Verde News Online is a service of WNI. By using the Site, verdenews.com ®, you agree to abide and be bound by the Site's terms of use and Privacy Policy, which prohibit commercial use of any information on the Site. Click here to submit your questions, comments or suggestions. Verde News Online is a proud publication of Western News&Info Inc.® All Rights Reserved.

Software © 1998-2016 1up! Software, All Rights Reserved