2019 wildfire season has seen less fires, but more acres burned

PHOENIX (FOX 10) - Forestry officials correctly predicted an increase in wildfires this year in comparison to last. And with a late start to the monsoon season, fires continue to burn across the state.

Unfortunately, 88% of those fires were human-caused.

Tiffany Davila with the Arizona Department of Forestry says the increased moisture this past winter resulted in an abundance of vegetation.

"Now that we have this influx of grass, those fires are getting away from those residents. They're moving more quickly and spreading rapidly, and they are not able to suppress them on their own," Davila said.

Although there were more wildfires that had burned by this time last year, this year the fires have been bigger.

In 2018, 165,000 acres burned across the state. This year so far, over 235,000 acres have burned and the year is only half over.

To put things into perspective, that's about as big as Scottsdale, Tempe and Mesa combined.

"Last year, we were in severe drought. and we didn't have hardly any moisture so if a fire were to break out, let's say in Whittman last year, residents were able to suppress it on their own," Davila said.

One of the bigger wildfires this year was the Woodbury Fire which broke out in early June near Superior. It burned over 123,000 acres.

Although there's been a bump in monsoonal activity recently, Davila says we're not out of the woods.

"We can still have fires at any time of the year. California is a great example of what happens 365 days in a year," Davila said.

While there hasn't been any structures lost so far, officials still want to remind people there are still stage 1 fire restrictions in place across the state. It's not known as of right now when they'll be lifted.