Agencies Preparing For Wildfires By Hiring And Training Firefighters

Published: Monday, March 7, 2016 - 8:50am
Updated: Monday, March 7, 2016 - 5:37pm
(Photo courtesy of Dolores Garcia)
Mock fire scenario with Beaver Dam/Littlefield Fire Department and our Arizona Strip District Fire personnel

The majority of wildfires in Arizona are caused by humans. And when you have above-average temperatures plus dry conditions, a spark from a car or an unattended campfire can quickly turn into a devastating blaze.

Several agencies including the Bureau of Land Management and the Forest Service are gearing up for fire season, which has already started in some parts of the state.

The Guadalupe Pass fire burning in the Coronado National Forest on the Arizona-New Mexico border has already consumed around 5,000 acres. That’s because the fuels in the area-- the shrubs and grasses that grew quickly after last year’s heavy rains-- are in abundance and drying out. 

"The last couple of years we’ve been looking at conditions like this also and the large fires never materialized," said Heidi Shewel with Coronado National Forest. "So the best we can do is expect the worst, plan for it and hope for the best."

Shewel says her agency is currently hiring seasonal firefighters. Some of them will be at the Arizona Wildfire Academy training in Prescott, taking place this week.

Dolores Garcia is with the BLM. She says more than 700 people will be attending the training.

"They are offering everything from the basic fire-fighting draining classes to more advanced division supervisor and leadership training classes, as well as communication and logistic classes," said Garcia.

She says at least 65 percent or more of the fires in Arizona are human-caused. The Guadalupe Pass fire is being investigated as such. 

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