Was this year’s wildfire season as severe as projected? AZ Forestry and Fire weighs in

TUCSON, Ariz. (13 News) – The peak of wildfire season in Arizona is usually in June and July, but experts believe the fire season is still going strong.

This comes as we near the end of August when fire crews usually see wildfire season winding down. Due to the delay in the season, fire crews are still keeping their eye on the possibility of a wildfire sparking up.

In normal years, fire activity in the state usually picks up around mid to late May.

According to Tiffany Davila with AZ Forestry and Fire Management, because of this past winter’s above-average rainfall and snow, fire crews didn’t start responding to uncontrolled wildfires until June. Fire officials believe this helped this year’s wildfire season overall.

“We were actually delayed by about a month because of all of that moisture,” Davila said.

Davila added that dry conditions and high temperatures did not help either.

“We did see a lot of fire activity in southern Arizona as predicted and projected because of the fine fuel type in the area the grass and the brush,” Davila said.

So far this year, crews have battled over 1,400 wildfires throughout the state, totaling 143,000 acres.

That’s an increase compared to this same time back in 2022, when 1,200 wildfires burned a total of 120,000 acres across Arizona.

“While we had more fires, per se than last year, there were just a lot of smaller fires,” Davila said. “We had a heavy down initial attack method in southern Arizona. We were really able to pick up a lot of the fires before allowing them to get very large.”

But even then, Davila said the past two wildfire seasons have been below average.

“I’m not going to say it was nonexistent because it definitely was and I’m not going to say it was extremely busy,” Davila said. “Because we’ve had very busy years where 2,000 plus fires burned 500,000 acres to 600,000 acres.”

During a typical wildfire season, crews can battle flames stretching from 300,000 to 400,000 acres.

“We’re still kind of actively engaged with fires,” Davila said. “Just because we did receive some moisture doesn’t mean we are out of the woods just yet. Things will be drying up.”

The typical end of wildfire season is usually in early October. However, according to Davila, the state needs to see a more substantial amount of rainfall, with an increase in humidity levels, to bring an official end to the wildfire season.

“Northern Arizona is cooling down and they are getting those afternoon storms,” Davila said. “It’s really the southern portion of the state, the central region, across the Sonoran Desert where we are still seeing that fire activity and could see the potential for more fire activity in the coming weeks.”

Since it’s still very dry and warm in southern Arizona, Davila said it’s important for people not to become complacent. She also advises Arizonans to be cautious when working outside with power tools or doing any fire-related activity because one little spark can ignite a wild blaze.

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