Arizona Governor, fire agencies ask for help to prevent wildfires this year

Arizona Governor Doug Ducey is asking for residents to do their part to prevent wildfires on Monday, saying, "We all have a role to play in protecting our forests and communities and minimizing the risk of wildfires."

Gov. Ducey joined with the Arizona Department of Forestry and Fire Management saying common sense needs to be used to prevent fires.

Residents are reminded that flying a drone near a wildfire is illegal and to make sure a fire is out cold before leaving it.

In 2020, Arizona experienced an extremely active wildfire season with close to 1,000,000 acres being burned.

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"Wildfires can start through lightning, campfires and more, and have devastating effects on air quality, wildlife, people and property," the governor's news release reads.

On March 9, Ducey signed into law an expansion of opportunities that will allow low-risk prison inmates to prevent wildfires through the Arizona Healthy Forest Initiative.

"The initiative is a joint program between the Arizona Department of Forestry and Fire Management and the Arizona Department of Corrections, Rehabilitation and Reentry that provides resources for preventing wildfires by utilizing low-risk inmates to control vegetation that could contribute to wildfires. The skills obtained by inmates through the Healthy Forest Initiative will help prepare them for employment upon release while reducing recidivism across the state."

Krista Countryman is a wildland firefighter for the Arizona Department of Forestry and Fire Management. She joined the program when she was released from prison and says she hopes those that come after her will find benefit the way she has.  

"Aside from it being a valuable resource in preventing wildfires in Arizona, I have the highest hopes that this program will not only teach these men and women skills that they can use to find work upon their release, but it will also rehabilitate them physically, mentally and emotionally," Countrymen said.

RELATED: Forecasters: Above-normal wildfire threat on tap for Arizona

In the news release, it says to help prevent fires, Arizonans are encouraged to:

  • Ensure trailer chains do not drag (any spark can start a fire);
  • Practice responsible outdoor recreation and ensure campfires, matches or cigarettes are out cold before walking away from them; 
  • Be "fire wise" and protect your property by limiting the combustible material and vegetation within 100 feet of your house; and
  • Remember it is illegal and highly dangerous to fly a drone near wildfires.