US Officials: Fire Season Already Off To Troubling Start

Published: Tuesday, May 17, 2016 - 7:33pm
(Photo by San Bernadino County Fire Department via Inciweb)
The Topock Fire burned Lake Havasu Wildlife Refuge in April 2016.

After 2015 went down as the worst year on record for fires, the nation’s top agricultural and forest officials met today to discuss what may be in store this year. They feel the fire season is already off to a troubling start.

U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell and his boss, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, met with regional officials to discuss plans and preparations for what they call a “worrisome” wildfire season to come.

Their briefing comes after a record 15,800 square miles burned nationwide last year, costing seven Forest Service firefighters their lives and an unprecedented $1.7 billion to fight.

Ominously, so far in 2016, five times more acres have already burned than at this time last year.

Jessica Gardetto of the National Interagency Fire Center said conditions are ripe for history to repeat itself.

“We’re hoping that this doesn’t happen again this year, but there is a potential because there are a lot of areas that are still experiencing drought, including California," said Gardetto.

Fire officials say Arizona has about another month in the danger zone before monsoon season kicks in.

Global warming is seen an increasing factor. Sixteen of the most historically significant wildfires have occurred over the past decade.

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