Wildfire Watch: Arizona officials provide fire prevention tips ahead of upcoming season

Potential wildfires in Arizona are on the top of offiical's minds, as a new wildfire season gets close, and the state is trying to get ahead of things.

On Mar. 27, the state's Department of Forestry and Fire Management gave an update on conditions that influence fire behavior, as well as tips on how to prevent fires.

"A lot of preparation is happening right now to identify those critical areas that are most at risk, so that's where our focus is," said Arizona State Forester Tom Torres.

Officials with the state's Department of Forestry and Fire Management say the wildfire potential this year is down south.

"Heavy fuel loading on the grasses that are above normal, with the onset of monsoons a couple of years ago and lack of actually large scale fires down there," said John Truett, a Fire Management Officer with the Department of Forestry and Fire Management. "That grass crop is two to three years old now, so that fuel loading is very heavy."

As most fires in the state are human-caused, Governor Katie Hobbs has some tips for Arizonans.

"Never burn debris or yard waste on windy days. On days with conditions are fine, and outdoor burning is safe, always have a water source and shovel nearby. Never pull your vehicle off the road and into tall vegetation. The heat from the vehicle's undercarriage can start a fire," said Gov. Hobbs.

Fire Chief Scott Freitag with the Central Arizona Fire and Medical Authority says across the state in 2022, they saw about a 50% reduction in the number of resources available from the local fire agencies.

"Most of these outer areas are covered by fire districts that are suffering from lack of funding, and that's a significant issue," said Freitag. "As a matter of fact, there's some bills being debated in the House and the Senate right now that further cut our only source of revenue, which is property taxes."

Gov. Hobbs says she hears the concern about lack of funding, and is currently in budget talks.

"From the northern part of the state to the central part of the state, we will send resources down south, but only if we have those resources available," said Freitag.

Officials say if for those who live in an area where wildfires can happen, it's best to have a go bag, in case they are told to evacuate.