ARIZONA, USA — There have been an estimated 400 wildfires in Arizona as of May 18, according to the Southwest Coordination Center website. Humans have caused 381 of those fires.
The destruction these fires can leave in their wake can be catastrophic. To help keep Arizona's people and land safe, multiple state agencies have released tips to inform individuals on how they can best help prevent another wildfire from happening.
One of the most important things to remember is that there is "really no such thing as 'fire season' anymore," the Arizona Department of Forestry and Fire Management said on its app. A fire can start at any time, so individuals should always be careful.
The department lists multiple things people can do to prevent wildfires from happening. Their tips include:
- Make sure your campfire is fully out by dousing it with water, stirring it, and repeating until it is cool to the touch with the back of your hand
- Always refrain from using a chainsaw or welding equipment during windy or high fire danger days
- Whenever burning debris, be sure to use the proper burn barrel, never leave the burn unattended, make sure it is completely out before walking away, and to never burn on windy days
- Never target shoot or use fireworks on state lands, as they are never allowed
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Drivers are also at risk for starting wildfires if the proper precautions are not taken, the Arizona Department of Transportation said.
The department tweeted out some tips Monday morning after the East Desert wildfire, which has burned more than 1,500 acres and has led to the evacuation of 50 homes, was determined to be human-caused.
Their tips for drivers include:
- Do not throw cigarette buds out a vehicle window
- Check tire pressure, as underinflated tires may cause the wheel to touch the road/trail, throwing sparks
- Never park or drive or dry grasses and brush, as hot engines may start a fire
- Tighten trailer chains and other equipment so it doesn't drag
- Check brake pads, as worn pads can throw sparks through metal on metal contact
If a wildfire does start, there are some prevention measures people can take that make sure their homes survive and are not destroyed, the National Fire Protection Association said.
The association said that the main way homes are set ablaze during wildfires are by embers and small flames. Limiting the amount of flammable vegetation around homes, along with removing plants containing oils, resins, and waxes, significantly reduce the risk of homes being ignited.
Having fire-resistive construction, including fire-resistive roofing, siding, and removing flammable materials from decks and porches, can also increase the chance homes survive.
Lastly, having and practicing an emergency action plan with all of the occupants of the home can save lives in the event of a home catching fire, the association said.
In 2018, Arizona had 2,000 wildfires. By following these prevention methods and having less human-started wildfires, 2020's numbers may be significantly lower.