TFD: Potential of Santa Rosa wildfire happening in Tucson is high

TUCSON, Ariz. - The most destructive wildfire in the history of the state of California left the city of Santa Rosa devastated. The city lost a total of 3,000 homes and dozens lost their lives in the fire. To this day, thousands remain without a home. In the Old Pueblo, fire officials are now analyzing the possibility of a blaze in that magnitude happening here. 

Unfortunately, according to Captain Kris Blum of the Tucson Fire Department, the potential of it happening in Tucson is there and very high. Tucson's topography and geography, although smaller in size is very similar to Santa Rosa. During the fires in Santa Rosa, the flames spread mostly from home to home, mostly because of the amount of unmanaged vegetation around the city. The situation is quite similar here in Tucson, Blum said. He says many homes within city limits have unkempt weeds, branches, trees and leaves, which is a big danger and makes homes more vulnerable to embers, allowing a potential fire to quickly spread.

The weather, wind, and the topography in Tucson are a perfect combination for a wildfire, Bulm added. The potential is even bigger because of the resources available to fight a wildfire in Tucson, he said. The department is mostly trained to fight structure fires, not fires that start on wildland. However, that doesn't mean firefighters aren't being trained for it. For several months, the department has been analyzing data that shows how high the chances are. The overall goal is to make sure they all know that the potential exists.

The department also wants to remind Tucsonans about the importance of being "fire adapted." Most of the fires can be prevented with the work of fire officials and homeowners who take the necessary steps to protect their homes. 

Here are a few simple steps you can take:

  • Space trees at least 10 feet apart.
  • Remove dead or dying trees and shrubs.
  • Keep trees and shrubs pruned. Branches should be a minimum of 6 feet from the ground and shrubs under trees should be no more than 18 inches high.
  • Mow your lawn regularly and dispose promptly of cuttings and debris.
  • Clear your roof, gutters and eaves of debris.
  • Trim branches so they do not extend over roof or near the chimney.
  • Move firewood and storage tanks 50 feet away from home and clear areas at least 10 feet around them.
  • Do not connect wooden fencing directly to your home.
  • Keep the grounds around your home free of pine needles.
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