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Arizona forest official says crews ready to fight wildfires

Gov. Jan Brewer stands with Perryville Prison's firefighting crew May 2, 2013. (KTAR Photo/Jim Cross)

PHOENIX -- Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer said Thursday the state should prepare for the worst and hope for the best this fire season.

Brewer spoke outdoors at the Arizona National Guard Center, standing in a strong breeze. That kind of wind can spell trouble during fire season.

The governor said the state has already had more than 200 wildfires this year, mostly small fires, such as roadside and campfires. Brewer has OK'd a request from Arizona State Forester Scott Hunt for the tools and manpower that will be needed to fight fires.

"The resources include three firefighting airtankers along with surveillance planes, training on specialized equipment along with DPS and National Guard helicopters to drop water on the fires," Brewer said.

Hunt said Arizona is ready and more resources can be tapped into if the need arises.

"My fire suppression fund is $4 million but in the event of catastrophic fires I can tap an emergency state fund and FEMA funds. We feel like we're in good shape," he said.

Hunt and other fire commanders don't believe Arizona will see a repeat of 2011 when more than one million acres burned, including the largest fire in recorded state history.

The Wallow Fire burned almost 550,000 acres in eastern Arizona and forced the evacuation of thousands from Alpine, Greer, Springerville and other communities.

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