Wet Winter Could Mean Busy Wildfire Season, Experts Say

The Wallow Fire burns between Nutrioso and Alpine in the White Mountains in 2011. | Courtesy of Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests

Arizona is looking pretty green these days, but when all that greenery dries out, experts say it could become wildfire fuel.

The state's wet winter has been great for wildflowers and aquifers, but, as ABC 15 reported last week, it could also mean a severe fire season.

A National Park Serivce spokeswoman told the station that once the temperature hits 90 degrees, wildflowers, grasses and other plants can easily become fuel for wildfires. And those fires often start when people park in the grass along roadsides, because the underside of a car can be hot enough to ignite the grass.

Authorities say now is a good time to clear brush, grass and other potential fire fuel from around homes and property. And it's always a good time to remember the Leave No Trace principles of proper campfire management.

The 2011 Wallow Fire, the largest wildfire in Arizona's recorded history, was sparked by a mismanaged campfire and ended up burning half a million acres of Eastern Arizona. That year, more than a million acres burned in the state. In 2016, Arizona wildfires burned just under 300,000 acres, the most since 2011.

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