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Firefighters deal with start of wildfire season and pandemic protocols

Posted at 4:45 PM, May 04, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-04 20:35:49-04

TUCSON, Ariz. — Fire season is year-round in Arizona, but it gets more active in the summer.
Coronado National Forest Spokesperson Heidi Schewel says the busy season is ramping up early.

“Fires start in these fine fuels like brush which are really, really dry,” said Schewel. “They are igniting and spreading readily, all it takes is for something to start that fire.”

Two fires burned dozens of acres over the weekend. One near Picacho and another near Redington Pass. Officials are investigating the details but say both were human caused. Shewel says many people use Redington Pass for all sorts of recreation.

“Hiking, picnicking, bird watching, photography, shooting, hanging out in their vehicles, all kinds of stuff.”

A hot shot crew stopped the fires progress on Redington Pass overnight and the fire is now in mop up.
On top of all the other dangers they normally face firefighters are now working in a pandemic.

“We are using box meals instead of having communal food tents where people gather at meal time we are not sharing equipment such as radios or helmets.”

Schewel asks people to practice fire safety.

“If you are smoking use your ash trays, don’t throw your cigarette out the window. If you are towing your trailer make sure your tow trains aren’t dragging and hitting asphalt that can spark a fire.”

She says to keep firefighters in mind before doing anything that could create a spark. They’ll be on the front lines in harm’s way this year like they’ve done for generations.

“It’s the nature of their work to adapt to changing conditions.”