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Dangers of buffelgrass during wildfire season

Dangers of buffelgrass during wildfire season
Posted at 6:18 PM, Jun 03, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-04 22:05:27-04

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — Perry Grissom, a restoration ecologist at Saguaro National Park says buffelgrass is an invasive species, and it's dangerous.

Grissom says it may look harmless, it can prove to be catastrophic within seconds of igniting.

“It’s definitely something to worry about,” he said.

He has seen, firsthand, how quickly buffelgrass can spread.

“It’s aggressive. That’s how it’s managed to take over. So if we have a wet monsoon or even an average monsoon, more seeds will germinate in the soil and come up, but… you know nine months out of the year it’s very dry so it’s highly receptive to anything that starts a fire,” Grissom added.

“It’s kind of compact so it burns for a long time. It bakes things. It can reach temperatures up to 1,600 degrees. If you’re trying to drag a fire hose through it, it will burn your fire hose. And fires can get bigger because it makes a continuous fuel-bed that covers the desert,” he told KGUN 9.

RELATED: What can you do to combat buffelgrass in Southern Arizona?

Which is why Grissom says it’s important to pull it out if you see it close to or around your home. As far as Saguaro National Park goes...

“One to four tons per acre has been found in the park. We have way more than we can kill in one year. We use herbicide in the park. It kills the plant and prevents it from reproducing. The fuel is still there but it declines overtime. So about after three years it wouldn't carry a fire anymore,” he assured.

While he says they can’t get rid of this grass at Saguaro National Park, they spray herbicide at least once a year to help slow the spread.

“In the past where we have really wet summer crews would treat areas up to four times,” he told KGUN 9.

MAP: Wildfires currently burning in Arizona, across U.S.