The Southwest is at a high level of wildfire preparedness early this year, Forest Service says

Published: Wednesday, April 27, 2022 - 8:28pm
Updated: Wednesday, April 27, 2022 - 8:31pm

U.S. Rep. Tom O’Halleran hosted a town hall Wednesday focused on the Tunnel Fire, which destroyed at least 100 properties. 

A U.S. Forest Service official who joined O’Halleran for the town hall said the Southwest is at nearly the highest level of wildfire preparedness it can be at. 

Jake Nuttall directs the Southwestern Region Fire and Aviation Management project for the agency.

"The Southwest is currently in a preparedness level 4," he said.

There are five levels. He said that refers to fire crews, aviation assets and incident management teams like those currently managing the Tunnel Fire.

"This is the earliest that we’ve ever gone into preparedness level 4 in the Southwest. April 19 to be specific is the day that we made it to PL 4."

That is the day the Tunnel Fire unleashed across Flagstaff’s northeast side driven by 55 mile an hour winds.

During the town hall, callers asked O’Halleran if he supports an independent investigation into the Tunnel Fire and the response to it.

O’Halleran said the fire remains under investigation but said he supports transparency into all the issues surrounding it. Officials have so far ruled out lightning.

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